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Author of "The Prisoner of Zenda" 

In Preparation 


By the Author of this Volume 





"The Prisoner of Zenda " The Dolly Dialogues" Etc. 



flew l<?orfj anb lon&on 

Frederick A* Stokes Company 


Copyright, J895, J896 
By A. H. Hawkins 

Copyright, J896 
By Frederick A. Stokes Company 

Copyright, J895, J896 
By S. S. McClure, Limited 



L The Happiness of Stephen the Smith \ 

IL The Wager of the Marquis de Merosailles 5J 
III* The Madness of Lord Harry Culverhouse 79 

IV* The Courtesy of Christian the High- 
wayman too 

V. The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein J3J 

VL The Device of Giraido the Painter - J75 

VIL The Indifference of the Miller of Hofbau 201 

VIII, The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg 226 

IX* The Victory of the Grand Duke of 

Mittenheim 258 



44 * Kill him for me, then ; kill him for me ' " Frontispiece 

414 Take her and be happy '" \\ 

" Stephen stood on the threshold with his staff in his hand " 37 

The physician receives Princess Osra - 56 

44 4 Madame, if you will, you can do me a great service ' n 10 J 

44 With either hand he drew a silver-mounted pistol " 1 14 

44 She asked the officer why a throng of people hastened 

to the city" 118 

444 My lord, where is the Princess?"' - 160 

44 He drove his sword into his body, and the Count gave 

back before it " 165 

44 He walked with his head down and his eyes on the ground " 17 \ 

44 He took it and drained it " - 204 
* On either side of it sat the priest of the village and the 

Miller of Hofbau" 215 

44 4 Forgive me, forgive me I'" - 252 

44 A young man sprang up, and, with a low bow, drew 

aside to let her pass " - 259 

44 4 You are the beauty of the world,' he answered smiling " 263 


The Heart of Princess Osra* 


The Happiness of Stephen the Smith. 

" STEPHEN ! Stephen ! Stephen ! " 
The impatient cry was heard through all 
the narrow gloomy street, where the old 
richly-carved house-fronts bowed to meet 
one another and left for the eye's comfort 
only a bare glimpse of blue. It was, men 
said, the oldest street in Strelsau, even as 
the sign of the " Silver Ship " was the oldest 
sign known to exist in the city. For when 
Aaron Lazarus the Jew came there, seventy 
years before, he had been the tenth man in 
unbroken line that took up the business ; 
and now Stephen Nados, his apprentice 
and successor, was the eleventh. Old Laz- 
arus had made a great business of it, and 
had spent his savings in buying up the 
better part of the street ; but since Jews 
then might hold no property in Strelsau, 

2 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

he had taken all the deeds in the name of 
Stephen Nados ; and when he came to die, 
being unable to carry his houses or his 
money with him, having no kindred, and 
caring not a straw for any man or woman 
alive save Stephen, he bade Stephen let 
the deeds be, and, with a last curse against 
the Christians (of whom Stephen was one, 
and a devout one), he kissed the young 
man, and turned his face to the wall and 
died. Therefore Stephen was a rich man, 
and had no need to carry on the business, 
though it never entered his mind to do 
anything else ; for half the people who 
raised their heads at the sound of the cry 
were Stephen's tenants, and paid him rent 
when he asked for it ; a thing he did when 
he chanced to remember, and could tear him- 
self away from chasing a goblet or fashion- 
ing a little silver saint ; for Stephen loved 
his craft more than his rents ; therefore, 
again, he was well liked in the quarter. 

" Stephen ! Stephen ! " cried Prince 
Henry, impatiently hammering on the 
closed door with his whip. " Plague take 
the man ! Is he dead?" 

The men in the quarter went on with 
their work ; the women moved idly to the 
doors ; the girls came out into the street 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith. 3 

and clustered here and there, looking at the 
Prince. For although he was not so hand- 
some as that scamp Rudolf, his brother, 
who had just come back from his travels 
with half a dozen wild stories spurring after 
him, yet Henry was a comely youth, as he 
sat on his chestnut mare, with his blue eyes 
full of impatience, and his chestnut curls 
fringing his shoulders. So the girls clus- 
tered and looked. Moreover Stephen the 
smith must come soon, and the sight of 
him was worth a moment's waiting ; for he 
buried himself all day in his workshop, 
and no laughing challenge could lure him 

" Though, in truth," said one of the girls, 
tossing her head, " it's thankless work to 
spend a glance on either, for they do not 
return it. Now when Rudolf comes " 

She broke off with a laugh, and her com- 
rades joined in it. Rudolf left no debts of 
that sort unpaid, however deep he might be 
in the books of Stephen Nados and of the 
others who furnished his daily needs. 

Presently Stephen came, unbolting his 
door with much deliberation, and greeting 
Prince Henry with a restrained courtesy. 
He was not very well pleased to see his 
guest, for it was a ticklish moment with the 

4 The Heart of Princess Osr a* 

nose of Saint Peter, and Stephen would 
have liked to finish the job uninterrupted. 
Still, the Prince was a prince, a gentleman, 
and a friend, and Stephen would not be 
uncivil to him. 

" You ride early to-day, sir," he observed, 
patting the chestnut mare. 

" I have a good reason," answered 
Henry. " The Lion rages to-day." 

Stephen put up his hand to shelter his 
eyes from a ray of sunshine that had 
evaded the nodding walls and crept in ; it 
lit up his flaxen hair, which he wore long 
and in thick waves, and played in his yel- 
low beard ; and he looked very grave. For 
when the Lion raged, strange and alarming 
things might happen in the city of Strelsau. 
The stories of his last fit of passion were 
yet hardly old. 

" What has vexed the King ? " he asked ; 
for he knew that Prince Henry spoke of 
his father, Henry surnamed the Lion, now 
an old man, yet as fierce as when he had 
been young. " Is it your brother again ?" 

" For a marvel, no. It is myself, Ste- 
phen. And he is more furious with me 
than he has ever been with Rudolf ; aye, 
even more than he was at all the stories 
that followed my brother home." 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith. 5 

"And what is the cause of it all, sir, and 
how is it in my power to help?" 

" That you will find out very soon," said 
the Prince with a bitter laugh. " You will 
be sent for to the palace in an hour, Ste- 

" If it is about the King's ring, the ring 
is not finished," said Stephen. 

" It is not about the ring. Yet indeed 
it is, in a way, about a ring. For you are 
to be married, Stephen. This very day you 
are to be married." 

" I think not, sir," said Stephen mildly. 
" For it is a thing that a man himself hears 
about if it be true." 

" But the King thinks so ; Stephen, have 
you remarked, among my sister Osra's 
ladies, a certain dark lady, with black hair 
and eyes? I cannot describe her eyes." 

" But you can tell me her name, sir," sug- 
gested Stephen, who was a practical man. 

" Her name? Oh, her name is Hilda 
Hilda von Lauengram." 

" Aye, I know the Countess Hilda. I 
have made a bracelet for her." 

" She is the most beautiful creature 
alive!" cried Prince Henry, in a sudden 
rapture and so loudly (being carried away 
by his passion) that the girls heard him 

6 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

and wondered of whom he spoke with so 
great an enthusiasm. 

" To those to whom she seems such," ob- 
served Stephen. "But, pray, how am I con- 
cerned in all this, sir?" 

The Prince's smile grew more bitter as 
he answered : 

" Why, you are to marry her. It was an 
idle suggestion of Osra's, made in jest ; my 
father is pleased to approve of it in earnest." 

Then he bent in his saddle and went on 
in a hurried urgent whisper : " I love her 
better than my life, Stephen better than 
heaven ; and my faith and word are pledged 
to her ; and last night I was to have fled 
with her for I knew better than to face the 
old Lion but Osra found her making prep- 
arations and we were discovered. Then 
Osra was scornful, and the King mad, and 
Rudolf laughed ; and when they talked of 
what was to be done to her, Osra came in 
with her laughing suggestion. It caught 
the King's angry fancy, and he swore that 
it should be so. And, since the Archbishop 
is away, he has bidden the Bishop of Moden- 
stein be at the palace at twelve to-day, and 
you will be brought there also, and you 
will be married to her. But, by heavens, I'll 
have your blood if you are ! " With this 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 7 

sudden outbreak of fury the Prince ended. 
Yet a moment later* he put out his hand 
to the smith, saying : " It's not your fault, 


" That's true enough," said the smith ; 
" for I have no desire to marry her ; and 
it is not fitting that a lady of her birth 
should mate with a smith ; she is of a great 
house, and she would hate and despise 


Prince Henry was about to assent when 
his eye chanced to fall on Stephen the smith. 
Now the smith was a very handsome man 
handsomer, many said, than Prince Rudolf 
himself, whom no lady could look on with- 
out admiration ; he stood six feet and two 
inches in his flat working shoes ; he was very 
broad, and could leap higher and hurl a stone 
farther than any man in Strelsau. More- 
over he looked kind and gentle, yet was re- 
puted to grow angry at times, and then to be 
very dangerous. Therefore Prince Henry, 
knowing (or thinking that he knew) the 
caprices of women, and how they are caught 
by this and that, was suddenly seized with 
a terrible fear that the Countess Hilda 
might not despise Stephen the smith. Yet 
he did not express his fear, but said that it 
was an impossible thing that a lady of the 

8 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

Countess's birth (for the House of Lauen- 
gram was very noble) should wed a silver- 
smith, even though he were as fine a fellow 
as his good friend Stephen ; to which gra- 
cious speech Stephen made no reply, but 
stood very thoughtful, with his hand on the 
neck of the chestnut mare. But at last he 
said : "In any case it cannot be, for I am 
bound already." 

" A wife ? Have you a wife ? " cried the 
Prince eagerly. 

" No ; but my heart is bound," said 
Stephen the smith. 

" The King will make little of that. Yet 
who is she ? Is she any of these girls who 
stand looking at us ? " 

" No, she is none of these," answered 
Stephen, smiling as though such an idea 
were very ludicrous. 

" And are you pledged to her ? " 

" I to her, but not she to me." 

" But does she love you ? " 

"I think it most unlikely," said Stephen 
the smith. 

" The Lion will care nothing for this," 
groaned the Prince despondently. " They 
will send for you in half an hour. For 
heaven's sake spare her, Stephen ! " 

"Spare her, sir?" 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 9 

" Do not consent to marry her, however 
urgently the King may command you." 

The smith shook his head, smiling still. 
Prince Henry rode sorrowfully away, spend- 
ing not a glance on the bevy of girls who 
watched him go ; and Stephen, turning 
into his house, shut the door, and with one 
great sigh set to work again on the nose 
of Saint Peter. 

" For anyhow," said he, " a man can 
work." And after a long pause he added, 
" I never thought to tell any one ; but if I 
must, I must." 

Now, sure enough, when the clock on the 
Cathedral wanted a quarter of an hour of 
noon, two of the King's Guard came and 
bade Stephen follow them with all haste 
to the palace ; and since they were very 
urgent and no time was to be lost, he fol- 
lowed them as he was, in his apron, without 
washing his hands or getting rid of the dust 
that hung about him from his work. How- 
ever he had finished Saint Peter's nose and 
all had gone well with it, so that he went 
in a contented frame of mind, determined 
to tell the whole truth to King Henry the 
Lion sooner than be forced into a mar- 
riage with the Countess Hilda von Lauen- 

io The Heart of Princess Osra. 

The Lion sat in his great chair ; he was 
a very thin old man, with a face haggard 
and deeply lined ; his eyes, set far back in 
his head, glowed and glowered, and his 
fingers pulled his sparse white beard. On 
his right Prince Rudolf lolled on a low 
seat, smiling at the play ; on his left sat 
that wonderfully fair lady, the Princess 
Osra, then in the first bloom of her young 
beauty ; and she was smiling scornfully. 
Prince Henry stood before his father, and 
some yards from him was the Countess 
Hilda, trembling and tearful, supported by 
one of her companions ; and finally, since 
the Archbishop was gone to Rome to get 
himself a Scarlet Hat, the Bishop of Moden- 
stein, a young man of noble family, was 
there, most richly arrayed in choicest lace 
and handsomest vestments, ready to per- 
form the ceremony. Prince Rudolf had 
beckoned the Bishop near him, and was jest- 
ing with him in an undertone. The Bishop 
laughed as a man laughs who knows he 
should not laugh but cannot well help him- 
self ; for Rudolf owned a pretty wit, al- 
though it was sadly unrestrained. 

The King's fury, having had a night and 
a morning to grow cool in, had now settled 
into a cold ironical mood, which argued no 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* n 

less resolution than his first fierce wrath. 
There was a grim smile on his face as he 
addressed the smith, who, having bowed to 
the company, was standing between the 
Countess and Prince Henry. 

" The House of Elphberg," said the King, 
with mocking graciousness, " well recog- 
nises your worth, Stephen, my friend. We 
are indebted to you 

11 It's a thousand crowns or more from 
Prince Rudolf alone, sire," interrupted Ste- 
phen, with a bow to the Prince he named. 

" For much faithful service," pursued the 
King, while Rudolf laughed again. " I 
have therefore determined to reward you 
with the hand of a lady who is, it may be, 
above your station, but in no way above your 
worth. Behold her ! Is she not hand- 
some? On my word, I envy you, smith. 
She is beautiful, young, high-born. You 
are lucky, smith. Nay, no thanks. It is 
but what you deserve and no more than 
she deserves. Take her and be happy," 
and he ended with a snarling laugh, as he 
waved his lean veined hand towards the 
unhappy Countess, and fixed his sneering 
eyes on the face of his son Henry, who had 
turned pale as death, but neither spoke nor 

12 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

The Bishop of Modenstein he was of 
the House of Hentzau, many of which have 
been famous in history lifted up his hands 
in horror at Rudolf's last whispered jest, 
and then, advancing with a bow to the King, 
asked if he were now to perform his sacred 

" Aye, get on with it," growled the Lion, 
not heeding the Countess's sobs or the 
entreaty in his son's face. And the Prin- 
cess Osra sat unmoved, the scornful smile 
still on her lips ; it seemed as though she 
had no pity for a brother who could stoop, 
or for a girl who had dared to soar too high. 

"Wait, wait!" said Stephen the smith. 
" Does this lady love me, sire ? " 

" Aye, she loves you enough for the pur- 
pose, smith," grinned the King. " Do not 
be uneasy." 

" May I ask her if she loves me, sire ? " 

" Why, no, smith. Your King's word 
must be enough for you." 

" And your Majesty says that she loves 

" I do say so, smith." 

" Then," said Stephen, " I am very sorry 
for her ; for as there's a heaven above us, 
sire, I do not love her." 

Prince Rudolf laughed ; Osra's smile 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 13 

broadened in greater scorn ; the Countess 
hid her face in her companion's bosom. 
The old King roared out a gruff burst. 
" Good, good ! " he chuckled. " But it will 
come with marriage, smith ; for with mar- 
riage love either comes or goes eh, son 
Rudolf? and since in this case it cannot 
go, you must not doubt, friend Stephen, 
that it will come." And he threw himself 
back in his chair, greatly amused that a 
smith, when offered the hand of a Countess, 
should hesitate to take it. He had not 
thought of so fine a humiliation as this for 
the presumptuous girl. 

"That might well be, sire," admitted 
Stephen, " were it not that I most passion- 
ately love another." 

" Our affections," said the King, " are 
unruly things, smith, and must be kept in 
subjection ; is it not so, son Rudolf ? " 

" It should be so, sire," answered the 
merry Prince. 

But the Princess Osra, whose eyes had 
been scanning Stephen's figure, here broke 
suddenly into the conversation. 

" Are you pledged to her whom you love 
so passionately ? " she asked. 

" I have not ventured to tell her of my 
love, madame," answered he, bowing low. 

14 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

" Then there is no harm done," observed 
Prince Rudolf. " The harm lies in the 
telling, not in the loving." 

" Tell us something about her," com- 
manded the Princess ; and the King, who 
loved sport most when it hurt others, 
chimed in : " Aye, let's hear about her whom 
you prefer to this lady. In what shop does 
she work, smith ? Or does she sell flowers ? 
Or is she a serving-girl ? Come, listen, 
Countess, and hear about your rival." 

Prince Henry took one step forward in 
uncontrolled anger ; but he could not meet 
the savage mirth in the old man's eyes, and, 
sinking into a chair, spread his hand across 
his face. But Stephen, regarding the King 
with placid good-humour, began to speak 
of her whom he loved so passionately. 
And his voice was soft as he spoke. 

" She works in no shop, sire," said he, 
"nor does she sell flowers, nor is she a 
serving-girl ; though I would not care if 
she were. But one day, when the clouds 
hung dark over our street, she came riding 
down it, and another girl with her. The 
two stopped before my door, and, seeing 
them, I came out 

"It is more than you do for me," re- 
marked Prince Rudolf. 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 15 

Stephen smiled, but continued his story. 
" I came out ; and she whom I love gave me 
a bracelet to mend. And I, looking at her 
rather than at the bracelet, said, 4 But al- 
ready it is perfect.' But she did not hear, 
for, when she had given me the bracelet, she 
rode on again at once and took no more no- 
tice of me than of the flies that were crawl- 
ing up my wall. That was the first and is 
the last time that I have spoken to her un- 
til this day. But she was so beautiful that 
there and then I swore that, until I had found 
means and courage to tell her my love, and 
until she had thrice refused it, I would 
marry no other maiden nor speak a word of 

" It seems to me," said Prince Rudolf, 
" that the oath has some prudence in it ; 
for if she prove obdurate, friend Stephen, 
you will then be able to go elsewhere ; 
many lovers swear more in temperately." 

" But they do not keep their oaths," said 
Stephen, with a shrewd look at the Prince. 

" You had best let him alone, my son," 
said the old King. " He knows what all the 
country knows of its future King." 

"Then he may go and hang with all the 
country," said the Prince peevishly. 

But the Princess Osra leant a little for- 

1 6 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

ward towards Stephen, and the Countess 
Hilda also looked covertly out from the 
folds of her friend's dress at Stephen. And 
the Princess said : 

" Was she then so beautiful, this girl ?" 

" As the sun in heaven, madame," said 
the smith. 

" As beautiful as my pretty sister ? " asked 
Rudolf in careless jest. 

"Yes, as beautiful, sir," answered Stephen. 

"Then," said the cruel old King, "very 
much more beautiful than this Countess ? " 

" Of that you must ask your son Henry, 
sire," said Stephen discreetly. 

" Nevertheless," said the King, " you must 
put up with the Countess. We cannot all 
have what we want in this world, can we, 
son Henry?" and he chuckled again most 

" Not, sire, till my lady has thrice refused 
me," the smith reminded the King. 

" Then she must be quick about it. For 
we all, and my lord Bishop here, are wait- 
ing. Send for her, Stephen by heaven, I 
have a curiosity to see her ! " 

" And, by heaven ! so have I, " added 
Prince Rudolf with a merry smile. "And 
poor Henry here may be cured by the 
sight. " 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 17 

The Princess Osra leant a little further 
forward, and said gently : 

" Tell us her name, and we will send for 
her. Indeed I also would like to see her" 

" But if she refuses, I shall be worse off 
than I am now ; and if she says yes, still 
I must marry the Countess," objected the 

" Nay," said the King, "if she does not 
refuse you three times, you shall not marry 
the Countess, but shall be free to try your 
fortune with the girl ; " for the smith had 
put the old Lion in a better temper, and he 
thought he was to witness more sport. 

"Since your Majesty is so good, I must 
tell her name," said Stephen, " though ! 
had rather have declared my love to her- 
self alone." 

" It is the pleasantest way," said Prince 
Rudolf, " but the thing can be done in the 
presence of others also." 

" You must tell us her name that we may 
send for her," said the Princess, her eyes 
wandering now from the Countess to the 
smith, and back to the Countess again. 

" Well, then," said Stephen sturdily, "the 
lady who came riding down the street and 
took away my heart with her is called Osra, 
and her father is named Henry." 

i8 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

A moment or two passed before they 
understood what the smith had said. Then 
the old King fell into a fit of laughter, 
half choked by coughing ; Prince Rudolf 
clapped his hands in merry mockery, and a 
deep flush spread over the face of the Prin- 
cess ; while the Countess, her companion, 
and the younger Prince seemed too aston- 
ished to do anything but stare. As for 
Stephen, having said what he had to say, 
he held his peace a thing in him which 
many men, and women also, would do well 
to imitate ; and, if they cannot, let them 
pray for the grace that is needful. Heaven 
is omnipotent. 

The old King, having recovered from his 
fit of laughing, looked round on the smith 
with infinite amusement, and, turning to his 
daughter, he said : " Come, Osra, you have 
heard the declaration. It remains only for 
you to satisfy our good friend's conscience 
by refusing him three times. For then he 
will be free to do our pleasure and make 
the Countess Hilda happy." 

The heart of women is, as it would seem, 
a strange thing ; for the Princess Osra, 
hearing what the smith had said and learn- 
ing that he had fallen passionately in love 
with her on the mere sight of her beauty, 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 19 

suddenly felt a tenderness for him and a 
greater admiration than she had entertained 
before ; and although she harboured no ab- 
surd idea of listening to his madness, or of 
doing anything in the world but laugh at it 
as it deserved, yet there came on her a 
strange dislike of the project that she had 
herself, in sport, suggested : namely, that 
the smith should be married immediately to 
the Countess Hilda by the Lord Bishop of 
Modenstein. The fellow, this smith, had 
an eye for true beauty, it seemed. It would 
be hard to tie him down to this dusky, 
black-maned girl ; for so the Princess de- 
scribed the lady whom her brother loved, 
she herself being, like most of the Elph- 
bergs, rather red than black in color. Ac- 
cordingly, when the King spoke to her, she 
said fretfully : 

" Am I to be put to refuse the hand of 
such a fellow as this ? Why, to refuse him 
is a stain on my dignity ! " And she looked 
most haughty. 

" Yet you must grant him so much be- 
cause of his oath," said the King. 

"Well, then, I refuse him," said she tartly, 
and she turned her eyes away from him. 

" That is once," said Stephen the smith 
calmly, and he fixed his eyes on the Princess's 

20 The Heart of Princess Osra 

face. She felt his gaze, her eyes were drawn 
back to his, and she exclaimed angrily : 

" Yes, I refuse him," and again she 
looked away. But he looked still more in- 
tently at her, waiting for the third refusal. 

" It is as easy to say no three times as 
twice," said the King. 

" For a man, sire," murmured Prince 
Rudolf ; for he was very learned in the per- 
ilous knowledge of a woman's whims, and, 
maybe, read something of what was passing 
in his sister's heart. Certainly he looked at 
her and laughed, and said to the King : 

" Sire, I think this smith is a clever man, 
for what he really desires is to wed the 
Countess, and to do it without disobliging 
my brother. Therefore he professes this 
ridiculous passion, knowing well that Osra 
will refuse him, and that he will enjoy the 
great good fortune of marrying the Coun- 
tess against his will. Thus he will obey 
you and be free from my brother's anger. 
In truth, you're a crafty fellow, Master Ste- 

"There is no craft, sir," said Stephen. 
" I have told nothing but the truth." 

But the King swore a loud oath, crying : 
" Aye, that there is ! Rudolf has hit the 
mark. Yet I do not grudge him his good 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 21 

luck. Refuse him, Osra, and make him 

But the dark flush came anew on the 
Princess's face, for now she did not know 
whether the smith really loved her or 
whether he had been making a jest of her 
in order to save himself in the eyes of her 
brother Henry, and it became very intoler- 
able to her to suppose that the smith de- 
sired the Countess, and had lied in what he 
said about herself, making a tool of her. 
Again, it was hardly more tolerable to give 
him to the Countess, in case he truly loved 
herself ; so that her mind was very greatly 
disturbed, and she was devoured with eager- 
ness to know the reality of the smith's feel- 
ings towards her ; for, although he was only 
a smith, yet he was a wonderfully hand- 
some man in truth, it was curious that she 
had not paid attention to his looks before. 
Thus she was reluctant to refuse him a 
third time, when the Bishop of Moden- 
stein stood there, waiting only for her word 
to marry him to the Countess ; and she 
rose suddenly from her seat and walked to- 
wards the door of the room, and, when she 
had almost reached the door, she turned 
her head over her shoulder and cast one 
smile at Stephen the smith. As she glanced, 

22 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

the blush again mounted to her face, making 
her so lovely that her father wondered, 
and she said in arch softness : " I'll refuse 
him the third time some other day ; two de- 
nials are enough for one day," and with that 
she passed through the door and vanished 
from their sight. 

The King and Rudolf, who had seen the 
glance that she cast at Stephen, fell to 
laughing again, swearing to one another 
that a woman was a woman all the world over, 
whereat the lips of the Bishop twitched. 

" But the marriage can't go on," cried 
Rudolf at last. 

" Let it rest for to-day," said the King, 
whose anger was past. " Let it rest. The 
Countess shall be guarded ; and, since this 
young fool" (and he pointed to his son 
Henry) " will not wander while she is caged, 
let him go where he will. Then as soon as 
Osra has refused the smith a third time, we 
will send for the Bishop." 

" And what am I to do, sire ? " asked Ste- 
phen the smith. 

" Why, my son-in-law that would be," 
chuckled the King, " you may go back to 
where you came from till I send for you 

So Stephen, having thanked the King, 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 23 

went back home, and, sitting down to the 
chasing of a cup, became very thoughtful; 
for it seemed to him that the Countess had 
been hardly treated, and that the Prince de- 
served happiness, and that the Princess was 
yet more lovely than his eyes had found 
her before. 

Thus, in his work and his meditations, the 
afternoon wore away fast. So goes time 
when hand and head are busy. 

The Princess Osra walked restlessly up 
and down the length of her bed-chamber. 
Dinner was done and it was eight o'clock, 
and, the season being late October, it had 
grown dark. She had come thither to be 
alone ; yet, now that she was alone, she could 
not rest. He was an absurd fellow that 
smith ! Yes, she thought him fully as hand- 
some as her brother Rudolf. But what did 
Henry find to love in the black-brown Hilda ? 
She could not understand a man caring for 
such a colour ; a blackamoor would serve as 
well ! Ah, what had that silly smith meant ? 
It must have been a trick, as Rudolf said. 
Yet when he spoke first of her riding down 
the street, there was a look in his eyes that a 
man can hardly put there of his own will. 
Did the silly fellow then really ? Nay, 

24 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

that was absurd ; she prayed that it might 
not be true, for she would not have the poor 
fool unhappy. Nay, he was no fool. It 
was a trick, then ! How dared the insolent 
knave use her for his tricks ? Was there no 
other maiden in Strelsau whose name would 
have served ? Must he lay his tongue to 
the name of a daughter of the Elphbergs ? 
The fellow deserved flogging, if it were a 
trick. Ah, was it a trick? Or was it the 
truth? Oh, in heaven's name, which was 
it ? And the Princess tore the delicate silk 
of her ivory fan to shreds, and flung the 
naked sticks with a clatter on the floor. 

" I can't rest till I know," she cried, as 
she came to a stand before a lo-ng mirror 
let into the panel of the wall, and saw her- 
self at full length in it. As she looked a 
smile came, parting her lips, and she threw 
her head back as she said : " I will go and 
ask the smith what he meant." And she 
smiled again at her own face in triumphant 
daring ; for when she looked, she thought, 
" I know what he meant ! Yet I will hear 
from himself what he meant." 

Stephen the smith sat alone in his house ; 
his apprentices were gone, and he himself 
neither worked nor supped, but sat still and 
idle by his hearth. The street was silent 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 25 

also, for it rained and nobody was about. 
Then suddenly came a light timid rap at 
the door ; so light was it that the smith 
doubted if he had really heard, but it came 
again and he rose leisurely and opened the 
door. Even as he did so a slight tall figure 
slipped by him, an arm pulled him back, the 
door was pushed close again, and he was 
alone inside the house with a lady wrapped 
in a long riding-cloak, and so veiled that 
nothing of her face could be seen. 

" Welcome, madame," said Stephen the 
smith ; and he drew a chair forward and 
bowed to his visitor. He was not wearing 
his apron now, but was dressed in a well- 
cut suit of brown cloth and had put on a 
pair of silk stockings. He might have 
been expecting visitors, so carefully had he 
arrayed himself. 

" Do you know who I am?" asked the 
veiled lady. 

" Since I was a baby, madame," answered 
the smith, " I have known the sun when I 
saw it, even though clouds dimmed its face." 

A corner of the veil was drawn down, and 
one eye gleamed in frightened mirth. 

" Nobody knows I have come," said Osra. 
" And you do not know why I have come." 

" Is it to answer me for the third time ? " 

26 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

asked he, drawing a step nearer, yet observ- 
ing great deference in his manner. 

" It is not to answer at all, but to ask. 
But I am very silly to have come. What is 
it to me what you meant ?" 

" I cannot conceive that it could be any- 
thing, madame," said Stephen, smiling. 

"Yet some think her beautiful my 
brother Henry, for example." 

" We must respect the opinions of 
Princes," observed the smith. 

" Must we share them ?" she asked, draw- 
ing the veil yet a little aside. 

" We can share nothing we humble folk 
with Princes or Princesses, madame." 

" Yet we can make free with their names, 
though humbler ones would serve as well." 

" No other would have served at all, ma- 

" Then you meant it ? " she cried in sud- 
den half-serious eagerness. 

" Nay, but what, madame ? " 

" I don't care whether you meant it or 

" Alas ! I know it so well, that I marvel 
you have come to tell me." 

The Princess rose and began to walk up 
and down as she had in her own chamber. 
Stephen stood regarding her as though 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 27 

God had made his eyes for that one pur- 

" The thing is nothing," she declared 
petulantly, " but I have a fancy to ask it. 
Stephen, was it a trick, or or was it really 
so ? Come, answer me ! I can't spend 
much time on it." 

" It is not worth a thought to you. If 
you say no a third time, all will be well." 

"You will marry the Countess?" 

"Can I disobey the King, madame?" 

" I am very sorry for her," said the Prin- 
cess. "A lady of her rank should not be 
forced to marry a silversmith." 

" Indeed I thought so all along. There- 
fore " 

"You played the trick?" she cried in 
unmistakable anger. 

Stephen made no answer for a time, 
then he said softly : "If she loves the 
Prince and he her, why should they not 
marry ? " 

" Because his birth is above hers." 

" I am glad, then, that I am of no birth, 
for I can marry whom I will." 

" Are you so happy and so free, Ste- 
phen?" sighed the Princess ; and there was 
no more of the veil left than served to 
frame the picture of her face. 

28 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

" So soon as you have refused me the 
third time, madame," bowed the smith. 

" Will you not answer me?" cried the 
Princess ; and she smiled no more, but was 
as eager as though she were asking some 
important question. 

" Bring the Countess here to-morrow at 
this time," said Stephen, "and I will answer." 

" You wish, perhaps, to make a compari- 
son between us ? " she asked haughtily. 

" I cannot be compelled to answer ex- 
cept on my own terms," said the smith. 
" Yet if you will refuse me once again, the 
thing will be finished." 

" I will refuse you," she cried, "when I 

" But you will bring the Countess, ma- 

"I am very sorry for her. I have be- 
haved ill to her, Stephen, though I meant 
only to jest." 

" There is room for amends, madame," 
said he. 

The Princess looked long and curiously 
in his face, but he met her glance with a 
quiet smile. 

" It grows late," said he, " and you should 
not be here longer, madame. Shall I escort 
you to the palace ? " 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 29 

" And have every one asking with whom 
Stephen the smith walks ? No, I will go 
as I came. You have not answered me, 

"And you have not refused me, ma- 

" Will you answer me to-morrow when 
I come with the Countess ? " 

" Yes, I will answer then." 

The Princess had drawn near to the door; 
now Stephen opened it for her to pass out ; 
and as she crossed the threshold, she said : 

" And I will refuse you then perhaps ; " 
with which she darted swiftly down the 
dark, silent, shining street, and was gone ; 
and Stephen, having closed the door, passed 
his hand twice over his brow, sighed thrice, 
smiled once, and set about the preparation 
of his supper. 

On the next night, as the Cathedral clock 
struck nine, there arose a sudden tumult and 
excitement in the palace. King Henry the 
Lion was in such a rage as no man had 
ever seen him in before ; even Rudolf, his 
son, did not dare to laugh "at him ; courtiers, 
guards, attendants, lackeys, ran wildly to 
and fro in immense fear and trepidation. 
A little later, and a large company of the 
King's Guard filed out, and, under the com- 

30 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

mand of various officers, scattered them- 
selves through the whole of Strelsau, while 
five mounted men rode at a gallop to each of 
the five gates of the city, bearing commands 
that the gates should be closed, and no 
man, woman, or child be allowed to pass 
out without an order under the hand of the 
King's Marshal. And the King swore by 
heaven, and by much else, that he would 
lay them that is to say, the persons whose 
disappearance caused all this hubbub by 
the heels, and that they should know that 
there was life in the Lion yet ; whereat 
Prince Rudolf looked as serious as he 
could contrive to look for he was wonder- 
fully amused and called for more wine. 
And the reason of the whole thing was 
no other than this, that the room of the 
Princess Osra was empty, and the room 
of the Countess Hilda was empty, and no- 
body had set eyes on Henry, the King's 
son, for the last two hours or more. Now 
these facts were, under the circumstances 
of the case, enough to upset a man of a 
temper far more equable than was old King 
Henry the Lion. 

Through all the city went the Guards, 
knocking at every door, disturbing some at 
their suppers, some from their beds, some 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 31 

in the midst of revelry, some who toiled 
late for a scanty livelihood. When the 
doors were not opened briskly, the Guard 
without ceremony broke them in ; they 
ransacked every crevice and cranny of every 
house, and displayed the utmost zeal im- 
aginable ; nay, one old lady they so terrified 
that she had a fit there where she lay in 
bed, and did not recover for the best part 
of a month. And thus, having traversed all 
the city and set the whole place in stir and 
commotion, they came at last to the street 
where Stephen lived, and to the sign of the 
" Silver Ship," where he carried on the busi- 
ness bequeathed to him by Aaron Lazarus 
the Jew. 

" Rat, tat, tat ! " came thundering on the 
door from the sword-hilt of the Sergeant in 
command of the party. 

There was no answer ; no light shone 
from the house, for the window was closely 
shuttered. Again the Sergeant hammered 
on the door. 

" This pestilent smith is gone to bed," he 
cried in vexation. " But we must leave no 
house unsearched. Come, we must break 
in the door ! " and he began to examine the 
door, and found that it was a fine solid 
door, of good oak and clamped with iron. 

32 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

" Phew, we shall have a job with this 
door ! " he sighed. " Why, in the devil's 
name, doesn't the fellow answer ? Stephen, 
Stephen ! Ho, there ! Stephen ! " 

Yet no answer came from the inside of 
the house. 

But at this moment another sound struck 
sharp on the ears of the Sergeant and his 
men. It was the noise of flames crackling ; 
from the house next to Stephen's (which 
belonged to him, but was inhabited by a 
fruit-seller) there welled out smoke in vol- 
umes from every window ; and the fruit- 
seller and his family appeared at the win- 
dows calling for aid. Seeing this, the Ser- 
geant blew very loudly the whistle that he 
carried and cried " Fire ! " and bade his men 
run and procure a ladder ; for plainly the 
fruit-seller's house was on fire, and it was a 
more urgent matter to rescue men and 
women from burning than to find the Coun- 
tess and the Prince. Presently the ladder 
came, and a great crowd of people, roused 
by the whistle and the cries of fire, came 
also ; and then the door of Stephen's house 
was opened, and Stephen himself, looking 
out, asked what was the matter. Being 
told that the next house was on fire, he 
turned very grave for the house was his 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith. 33 

and waited for a moment to watch the fruit- 
seller and his family being brought down 
the ladder, which task was safely and pros- 
perously accomplished. But the Sergeant 
said to him : " The fire may well spread, 
and if there is anyone in your house, it would 
be prudent to get them out." 

" That is well thought of," said Stephen 
approvingly. " I was working late with 
three apprentices, and they are still in the 
house." And he put his head in at his 
door and called : " You had better come 
out, lads, the fire may spread." But the 
Sergeant turned away again and busied him- 
self in putting the fire out. 

Then three lads, one being very tall, 
came out of Stephen's house, clad in their 
leather breeches, their aprons, and the close- 
fitting caps that apprentices wore ; and for a 
moment they stood watching the fire at the 
fruit-seller's. Then, seeing that the fire was 
burning low which it did very quickly 
they did not stay till the attention of the 
Sergeant was released from it, but, accom- 
panied by Stephen, turned down the street, 
and, going along at a brisk rate, rounded 
the corner and came into the open space in 
front of the Cathedral. 

" The gates will be shut, I fear," said the 

34 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

tallest apprentice. " How came the fire, 

" It was three or four trusses of hay, sir, 
and a few crowns to repair his scorched 
paint. Shall we go to the gate ?" 

" Yes, we must try the gate," said Prince 
Henry, gathering the hand of the Countess 
into his ; and the third apprentice walked 
silently by Stephen's side. Yet once as she 
went, she said softly : 

" So it was no trick, Stephen ?" 

" No trick, but the truth, madame," said 

" I do not know," said Osra, " how I am 
to return to the palace in these clothes." 
> " Let us get your brother and the 
Countess away first," counselled the smith. 

Now when they came to the nearest gate 
it was shut ; but at the moment a troop of 
mounted men rode up, having been sent by 
the King to scour the country round, in case 
the fugitives should have escaped already 
from the city. And the Commandant of 
the company bore an order from the King's 
Marshal for the opening of the gate. See- 
ing this, Stephen the smith went up to him 
and began to talk to him, the three appren- 
tices standing close by, The Commandant 
knew Stephen well, and was pleased to talk 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 35 

with him while the gates were opened and 
the troopers filed through. Stephen kept 
close by him till the troopers were all 
through. Then he turned and spoke to 
the apprentices, and they nodded assent. 
The Commandant checked his horse for an 
instant when he was half-way through the 

fate, and bent down and took Stephen's 
and to shake it in farewell. Stephen took 
his hand with marvellous friendliness, and 
held it, and would not let him go. But the 
apprentices edged cautiously nearer and 
nearer the gate. 

" Enough, man, enough ! " laughed the 
Commandant. " We are not parting for 

" I trust not, sir, I trust not," said Stephen 
earnestly, still holding his hand. 

" Come, let me go. See, the gate-warden 
wants to shut the gate ! " 

" True ! " said Stephen. " Good-bye then, 
sir. Hallo, hallo ! stop, stop ! Oh, the 
young rascals ! " 

For even as Stephen spoke, two of the 
apprentices had darted through the half- 
closed gate, and run swiftly forward into 
the gloom of the night. Stephen swore an 

" The rogues ! " he cried. " They were 

36 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

to have worked all night to finish an image 
of Our Lady ! And now I shall see no 
more of them till to-morrow ! They shall 
pay for their prank then, by heaven they 
shall !" But the Commandant laughed. 

, " I am sorry I can't catch them for you, 
friend Stephen," said he, "but I have other 
fish to fry. Well, boys will be boys. Don't 
be too hard on them when they return." 

" They must answer for what they do," 
said Stephen ; and the Commandant rode 
on and the gates were shut. 

Then the Princess Osra said : 

" Will they escape, Stephen ?" 

" They have money in their purses, love 
in their hearts, and an angry King behind 
them. I should travel quickly, madame, if 
I were so placed." 

The Princess looked through the grating 
of the gate. 

"Yes," she said, "they have all those. 
How happy they must be, Stephen ! But 
what am I to do ? " 

Stephen made no answer and they walked 
back in silence to his house. It may be 
that they were wondering whether Prince 
Henry and the Countess would escape. 
Yet it may be that they thought of some- 
thing else. When they reached the house, 


The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 37 

Stephen bade the Princess go into the inner 
room and resume her own dress that she 
might return to the palace, and that it 
might not be known where she had been 
nor how she had aided her brother to evade 
the King's prohibition ; and when she, still 
strangely silent, went in as he bade her, he 
took his great staff in his hand, and stood 
on the threshold of the house, his head 
nearly touching the lintel and his shoulders 
filling almost all the space between door- 
post and door-post. 

When he had stood there a little while, 
the same Sergeant of the Guard, recollect- 
ing (now that the fire at the fruit-seller's 
was out) that he had never searched the 
house of the smith, came again with his 
four men, and told Stephen to stand aside 
and allow him to enter the house. 

" For I must search it," he said, " or my 
orders will not be performed." 

" Those whom you seek are not here," 
said Stephen. 

" That I must see for myself," answered 
the Sergeant. '' Come, smith, stand aside." 

When the Princess heard the voices out- 
side, she put her head round the door of 
the inner room, and cried in great alarm to 
Stephen : 

38 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

" They must not come in, Stephen. At 
any cost they must not come in ! " 

" Do not be afraid, madame, they shall 
not come in," said he. 

" I heard a voice in the house," exclaimed 
the Sergeant. 

" It is nothing uncommon to hear in a 
house," said Stephen, and he grasped more 
firmly his great staff. 

" Will you make way for us?" demanded 
the Sergeant. " For the last time, will you 
make way ? " 

Stephen's eyes kindled ; for though he 
was a man of peace, yet his strength was 
great and he loved sometimes to use it ; 
and above all, he loved to use it now at 
the bidding and i - protection of his dear 
Princess. So he answered the Sergeant 
from between set teeth : 

" Over my dead body you can come in." 

Then the Sergeant drew his sword and 
his men set their halberds in rest, and the 
Sergeant, crying, " In the King's name!" 
came at Stephen with drawn sword and 
struck fiercely at him. But Stephen let 
the great staff drop on the Sergeant's 
shoulder, and the Sergeant's arm fell pow- 
erless by his side. Thereupon the Guards 
cried aloud, and people began to come out 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 39 

of their houses, seeing that there was a fight 
at Stephen's door. And Stephen's eyes 
gleamed, and when the Guards thrust at 
him, he struck at them, and two of them 
he stretched senseless on the ground ; for 
his height and reach were such that he 
struck them before they could come near 
enough to touch him, and having no fire- 
arms they could not bring him down. 

The Princess, now fully dressed in her 
own garments, came out into the outer room, 
and stood there looking at Stephen. Her 
bosom rose and fell, and her eyes grew dim 
as she looked ; and growing very eager, and 
being very much moved, she kept murmur- 
ing to -herself, " I have not said no thrice ! " 
And she spent no thought on the Countess 
or her brother, nor on how she was to return 
undetected to the palace, but saw only the 
figure of Stephen on the threshold, and 
heard only the cries of the Guards who 
assaulted him. It seemed to her a brave 
thing to have such a man to fight for her, 
and to offer his life to save her shame. 

Old King Henry was not a patient man, 
and when he had waited two hours without 
news of son, daughter, or Countess, he flew 
into a mighty passion and sent one for his 
horse, and another for Rudolf's horse, and 

4 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

a third for Rudolf himself ; and he drank a 
draught of wine, and called to Rudolf to 
accompany him, that they might see for 
themselves what the lazy hounds of Guards 
were doing, that they had not yet come up 
with the quarry. Prince Rudolf laughed 
and yawned and wished his brother at the 
devil, but mounted his horse and rode with 
the King. Thus they traversed the city, 
riding swiftly, the old King furiously up- 
braiding every officer and soldier whom he 
met ; then they rode to the gate ; and all 
the gate-wardens said that nobody had 
gone out, save that one gate-warden ad- 
mitted that two apprentices of Stephen the 
silversmith had contrived to slip out when 
the gates were open to let the troopers 
pass. But the King made nothing of it, 
and, turning with his son, rode up the street 
where Stephen lived. Here they came 
suddenly into the midst of a crowd, that 
filled all the roadway, and would hardly let 
the horses move even at a foot's pace. 
The King cried out angrily, " What is this 
tumult ? " 

Then the people Icnew him, and, since 
common folk are always anxious to serve 
and commend themselves to the great, a 
score began all at once to tell him what 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith. 41 

had happened, some starting with the fire, 
some going straight to the fight ; and the 
King could not make head or tail of the 
babel of voices and different stories. And 
Prince Rudolf dropped his reins and sat 
on his horse laughing. But the King, his 
patience being clean gone, drew his sword 
and cried fiercely, " Make way ! " and set 
his spurs to his horse, not recking whether 
he hurt any man in life or limb. Thus he 
gained a passage through the crowd, and 
came near to Stephen's house, Prince Ru- 
dolf following in his wake, still greatly 
amused at all that was happening. 

But the sight they saw there arrested 
even Prince Rudolfs smiles, and he raised 
himself in his stirrups with a sudden cry 
of wonder. For four more of the Guard 
had come, and there were now six standing 
round the doorway, and three lay stretched 
on the ground ; but Stephen the smith 
still stood on the threshold, with his staff in 
his hand. Blood flowed from a wound in 
his head, but he twirled the staff to and 
fro, and was not weary, and none of the 
Guard dared to rush in and close with him. 
Thus he had held the threshold for an 
hour ; yet the Princess Osra could not 
escape unless he could drive off the Guard 

42 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

for a few moments, and this he hoped to 
do, thinking that they might draw off and 
wait for reinforcements ; but in any case he 
had sworn that they should not pass. And 
Osra did not pray him to let them pass, but 
stood motionless in the middle of the room 
behind him, her hands clasped, her face 
rigid, and her eyes all aflame with admira- 
tion of his strength and his courage. 

Thus matters were when the old King 
and Prince Rudolf broke through the crowd 
that ringed the house round, and the King 
cried out, asking what was the meaning of 
all that he saw. 

But when the King heard that Stephen 
the smith resisted the officers, would not 
suffer his house to be searched, had stretched 
three of the Guards senseless on the ground, 
and still more than held his own, he fell 
into a great rage ; he roared out on them 
all, calling them cowards, and, before his 
son or any one else could stop him, he 
drew his sword, and dug his spurs into his 
horse ; the horse bounded forward and 
knocked clown one of the Guards who stood 
round Stephen. Then the King, neither 
challenging Stephen to yield, nor giving 
him time to stand aside, being carried away 
by passion, raised his sword and rode full 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 43 

at him. And the Princess from within 
caught sight of his face, and she fell on her 
knees with a moan and hid her face. Then 
Stephen saw that it was the King and none 
other who rode against him ; and even had 
the King given him time, it may be that 
he would not have yielded, for he was a 
very resolute man, and he had pledged his 
promise to Osra the Princess. But he had 
no time for thought, for the King was on 
him in the space of a second, and he could 
do nothing but drop the staff that he held, 
and stand defenceless in the doorway ; for 
he would neither strike the King nor yield 
the passage. But the King, in his fury not 
heeding that Stephen had dropped his staff, 
drew back his arm and lunged with his 
sword, and thrust the smith through the 
chest ; and Stephen reeled and fell on one 
knee, and his blood flowed out on the 
stone of the doorstep. Then the King 
reined in his horse, and sat looking down 
on Stephen ; but Rudolf leapt to the 
ground, and came and caught hold of Ste- 
phen, supporting him, and asking, " What 
does it mean, man, what does it mean ? " 

Then Stephen, being very faint with his 
wound, said with difficulty : " Come in alone 
you and the King alone." 

44 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

Prince Rudolf looked at the King, who 
sheathed his sword and dismounted from 
his horse ; the Prince supported Stephen 
inside the house, and the King followed 
them, shutting the door on all the people 

Then King Henry saw his daughter, 
crouching now in the middle of the room, 
her face hidden in her hands. Surprise and 
wonder banished his rage and he could not 
do more than gasp her name, while the 
Prince, who knelt supporting Stephen, cried 
to her, asking how she came there ; but she 
answered nothing. She took her hands 
from her face and looked at Stephen ; and 
when she saw that he was hurt and bleeding, 
she fell to sobbing and hid her face again. 
And she did not know whether she would 
have him live or die ; for if he lived he could 
not be hers, and if he died her heart would 
ache sorely for him. Then Stephen, being 
supported by the arms of Prince Rudolf, 
made shift to speak, and he told the King 
how, at his persuasion, the Princess had 
brought the Countess thither ; how he him- 
self had contrived the presence of the Prince 
at the same time, how again the Princess 
had been prevailed upon to aid the lovers ; 
how they assumed the' disguise of appren- 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 45 

tices ; and how, hearing the arrival of the 
Guard, they had escaped out into the street ; 
aud lastly, how that the Prince and the 
Countess had got out of the city. But he 
said nothing of the fire at the fruit-seller's, 
nor of how he himself had bribed the fruit- 
seller to set the hay on fire, speaking to him 
from the back windows of the house, and 
flinging a purse of gold pieces across to 
him ; nor did this ever become known to the 
King. And when Stephen had said his say, 
he fell back very faint in the arms of the 
Prince ; and the Prince tore a scarf from 
his waist, and tried to staunch the blood 
from Stephen's wound. But the old King, 
who was a hard man, smiled grimly. 

" Indeed he has tricked us finely, this 
smith, and he is a clever fellow," said he ; 
" but unless he would rather hang than bleed 
to death, let his wound be, Rudolf. For by 
heaven, if you cure him, I will hang him." 

" Do not be afraid, sire," said Stephen ; 
" the Prince cannot cure me. You still 
strike straight, though you are hard on 

" Straight enough for a rascal like you," 
said the King well pleased ; and he added, 
" Hold the fellow easily, Rudolf, I would 
not have him suffer." And this was, they 

46 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

say, the only time in all his life that Henry 
the Lion shewed a sign of pity to any 

But Stephen was now very faint, and he 
cast his eyes towards the Princess ; and 
Rudolf followed his eyes. Now Rudolf had 
an affection for Stephen, and he loved his 
sister, and was a man of soft heart ; so he 
cried gently to Osra, " Come, sister, and 
help me with him." And she rose, and 
came and sat down by the wall, and gathered 
Stephen's head into her lap ; and there he 
lay, looking up at her, with a smile on his 
lips. But still he bled, and his blood stained 
the white cloak that she wore over her robe ; 
and her tears dropped on his face. But 
Rudolf took his father by the arm, and led 
him a little way off, saying : 

" What matter, sire ? The girl is young, 
and the man is dying. Let them be." 

The old King, grumbling, let himself be 
led away ; and perhaps even he was moved, 
for he forgot Prince Henry and the Coun- 
tess, and did not think of sending men in 
pursuit of them, for which reason they ob- 
tained a fair and long start in their flight. 

Then Stephen, looking up at Osra, said : 

" Do not weep, madame. They will es- 
cape now, and they will be happy." 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 47 

" I was not weeping for them," said the 

Stephen was silent for a little, and then 
he said : 

" In very truth it was no trick, madame ; 
it was even as I said, from the first day that 
you rode along the street here ; it was al- 
ways the same in my heart, and would 
always have been, however long I had. 

" I do not doubt it, Stephen ; and it is 
not for doubt of it that I weep," said she. 

Then, after a little while, he said : 

" Do you weep, madame, because I am 

"Yes, I weep for that." 

"Would you have me live, madame ?" 
he asked. 

" No, I would not no but I do not 
know," she said. 

Then Stephen the smith smiled, and his 
smile was happy. 

" Yet," said he, " it would make small 
difference to the Princess Osra whether Ste- 
phen the smith lived or died." 

At this, although he lay there a dying 
man, a sudden flush of red spread all over 
her cheeks, and she turned her eyes away 
from his, and would not meet his glance ; 

48 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

she made him no answer, and he said 
again : 

"What can it concern the Princess 
whether I live or die ? " 

Still the blush burnt on her cheek, and 
still she had no answer to give to Stephen, 
as he lay dying with his head on her lap. 
And a bright gleam came into his eyes, and 
he tried to move a hand towards her hand ; 
and she, seeing the effort, put out her hand 
and held his ; and he whispered very low, 
for he could hardly speak : 

" You have not yet refused me three times, 

At that her eyes came back to his, and 
their eyes dwelt long on one another. And 
for a moment it seemed to them that all 
things became possible, life and joy and 
love. Yet since all could not be, they were 
content that none should be. 

Then the Princess bent low over his head, 
and she whispered to him : 

" No, I have not refused you thrice, Ste- 

His lips just moved once again, and, being 
very near him, she heard : 

" And you will not ?" he said. 

" No," said she, and she kissed his lips, 
and he smiled and turned on his side ; and 

The Happiness of Stephen the Smith* 49 

he nestled his head, as it were cosily, on 
her lap, and he said no more. 

Thus died Stephen the silversmith of 
Strelsan, happy in his death because Osra 
the Princess had not refused him thrice. 
And she laid him gently on the ground, and 
rose, and went across to where the King sat 
with Rudolf. 

" Sire, he is dead," said she. 

" It is well," said the King. And he bade 
Rudolf go and cause all the people to leave 
the streets, and return to their houses ; and 
when all the streets were cleared, the Prin- 
cess veiled herself, and her brother mounted 
her on his horse, and thus she rode back to 
the palace ; and none knew that she had 
been in the house of Stephen the silver- 

And after many months Prince Henry, 
who had made good his escape and married 
the lady whom he loved, was reconciled to 
his father and returned to the city of Strel- 
sau. And when he heard how Stephen had 
died, he raised a stately monument over him, 
and had carved on it his name, and the day 
and year in which he had died ; and under- 
neath he caused to be engraved the words, 
" From a Friend to a Friend." But when 
this monument had stood three days in its 

$o The Heart of Princess Osra* 

place, there came thither a lady closely 
veiled ; she prayed on her knees by the mon- 
ument for a long while, and then rose and 
stood regarding it ; and her eyes rested on 
the last words that Prince Henry had 
written on the stone. Then she came nearer, 
and kissed the words, and, when she had 
kissed them, she whispered softly, " From a 
Lover to a Lover " ; and, having whispered 
this, she turned away and went back to the 
palace, and came no more to the tomb, for 
fear that the people should remark her com- 
ing. Yet often in the days that followed 
she would open the window of her bed- 
chamber by night, and she would whisper 
to the silent trusty darkness, that holds 
secrets and comforts sore hearts : 
" Not thrice, Stephen, not thrice ! " 
Therefore it may be that there had been 
a sweet madness in her heart, and that 
Stephen the silversmith had done a great 
thing, a thing that would appear impossible, 
before he died. And, as Prince Rudolf said, 
what matter ? For the girl was young, and 
the dream was sweet, and the man was dead, 
and in death at last are all men equal. 

The Wager of the Marquis de Merosailles* 

IN the year 1734, as spring began, there 
arrived at Strelsau a French nobleman of 
high rank and great possessions, endowed 
also with many accomplishments. He came 
to visit Prince Rudolf, whose acquaintance 
he had made while the Prince was at Paris 
in the course of his travels. King Henry 
received M. de Merosailles for such was 
his name most graciously, and sent a guard 
of honour to conduct him to the Castle of 
Zenda, where the Prince was then staying 
in company with his sister Osra. There 
the Marquis, on his arrival, was greeted 
with much joy by Prince Rudolf, who found 
his sojourn in the country somewhat irk- 
some and was glad of the society of a 
friend with whom he could talk, and sport, 
and play at cards. All these things he did 
with M. de Merosailles, and a great friend- 
ship arose between the young men, so that 
they spoke very freely to one another at all 

5 2 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

times, and most of all when they had drunk 
their wine and sat together in the evening 
in Prince Rudolfs chamber that looked 
across the moat towards the gardens ; for 
the new chdteau that now stands on the site 
of these gardens was not then built. And 
one night M. de Merosailles made bold to 
ask the Prince how it fell out that his sister 
the Princess, a lady of such great beauty, 
seemed sad, and shewed no pleasure in the 
society of any gentleman, but treated all 
alike with coldness and disdain. Prince 
Rudolf, laughing, answered that girls were 
strange creatures, and that he had ceased 
to trouble his head about them (of his heart 
he said nothing) and he finished by exclaim- 
ing : "On my honour, I doubt if she so 
much as knows you are here, for she has 
not looked at you once since your arrival ! " 
And he smiled maliciously, for he knew that 
the Marquis was not accustomed to be neg- 
lected by ladies, and would take it ill that 
even a Princess should be unconscious of 
his presence. In this he calculated rightly, 
for M. de Merosailles was greatly vexed, 
and, twisting his glass in his fingers, he said : 
" If she were not a Princess, and your 
sister, sir, I would engage to make her look 
at me." 

The Wager of the Marquis de Merosailles* 53 

" I am not hurt by her looking at you," 
rejoined the Prince : for that evening he 
was very merry. " A look is no great 

The Marquis, being no less merry, and 
knowing that Rudolf had not the regard for 
his dignity that a Prince should have, threw 
out carelessly : 

" A kiss is more, sir." 

"It is a great deal more," laughed the 
Prince, tugging his moustache. 

" Are you ready for a wager, sir ? " asked 
M. de Merosailles, leaning across the table 
towards him. 

" I'll lay you a thousand crowns to a 
hundred that you do not gain a kiss, using 
what means you will, save force." 

" I'll take that wager, sir," cried the Mar- 
quis. " But it shall be three, not one." 

" Have a care," said the Prince. " Don't 
go too near the flame, my lord ! There are 
some wings in Strelsau singed at that can- 

" Indeed the light is very bright," as- 
sented the Marquis courteously. " That 
risk I must run, though, if I am to win my 
wager. It is to be three then, and by what 
means I will, save force?" 

" Even so," said Rudolf, and he laughed 

54 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

again. For he thought the wager harmless, 
since by no device could M. de Merosailles 
win so much as one kiss from the Princess 
Osra, and the wager stood at three. But he 
did not think how he wronged his sister by 
using her name lightly, being in all such 
matters a man of careless mind. 

But the Marquis, having made his wager, 
set himself steadily to win it. Therefore he 
brought forth the choicest clothes from his 
wardrobe, and ornaments, and perfumes ; 
and he laid fine presents at the Princess's 
feet ; and he waylaid her wherever she went, 
and was profuse of glances, sighs, and hints ; 
and he wrote sonnets, as fine gentlemen used 
in those days, and lyrics and pastorals, 
wherein she figured under charming names. 
These he bribed the Princess's waiting- 
women to leave in their mistress's chamber. 
Moreover he looked now sorrowful, now 
passionate, and he ate nothing at dinner, 
but drank his wine in wild gulps, as though 
he sought to banish sadness. So that, in a 
word, there was no device in Cupid's 
armoury that the Marquis de Merosailles 
did not practise in the endeavour to win a 
look from the Princess Osra. But no look 
came, and he got nothing from her but cold 
civility. Yet she had looked at him when 

The Wager of the Marquis de Merosailles* 55 

he looked not for Princesses are much like 
other maidens and thought him a very 
pretty gentleman, and was highly amused 
by his extravagance. Yet she did not be- 
lieve it to witness any true devotion to her, 
but thought it mere gallantry. 

Then, one day, M. de Merosailles, having 
tried all else that he could think of, took to 
his bed. He sent for a physician, and paid 
him a high fee to find the seeds of a rapid and 
fatal disease in him : and he made his body- 
servant whiten his face and darken his room ; 
and he groaned very pitifully, saying that he 
was sick, and that he was glad of it ; for 
death would be better far than the con- 
tinued disdain of the Princess Osra. And 
all this, being told by the Marquis's servants 
to the Princess's waiting-women, reached 
Osra's ears, and caused her much perturba- 
tion. For she now perceived that the pas- 
sion of the Marquis was real and deep, and 
she became very sorry for him : the longer 
the face [of the rascally physician grew the 
more sad the Princess became : she walked 
up and down, bewailing the terrible effects 
of her beauty, wishing that she were not so 
fair, and mourning very tenderly for the 
sad plight of the unhappy Marquis. 

Through all Prince Rudolf looked on, but 

56 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

was bound by his wager not to undeceive 
her ; moreover he found much entertainment 
in the matter, and swore that it was worth 
three times a thousand crowns. 

At last the Marquis sent by the mouth 
of his physician a very humble and pitiful 
message to the Princess, in which he spoke 
of himself as near to death, hinted at the 
cruel cause of his condition, and prayed her 
of compassion to visit him in his chamber, 
and speak a word of comfort, or at least let 
him look on her face : for the brightness of 
her eyes, he said, might cure even what it 
had caused. 

Deceived by this appeal, Princess Osra 
agreed to go ; moved by some strange im- 
pulse, she put on her choicest array, dressed 
her hair most splendidly, and came into the 
chamber looking like a goddess. There lay 
the Marquis, white as a ghost and languid 
on his pillows ; and they were left, as they 
thought, alone. Then Osra sat down and 
began to talk very gently and kindly to him, 
glancing only at the madness which brought 
him to his sad state, and imploring him to 
summon his resolution, and conquer his 
sickness for his friends' sake at home in 
France, and for the sake of her brother, 
who loved him. 


The Wager of the Marquis de Me>osailles. 57 

" There is nobody who loves me," said the 
Marquis petulantly ; and when Osra cried 
out at this, he went on, " For the love of 
those whom I do not love is nothing to me, 
and the only soul alive I love There 

he stopped, but his eyes, fixed on Osra's 
face, ended the sentence for him. And she 
blushed, and looked away. Then thinking 
the moment was come, he burst suddenly 
into a flood of protestations and self-re- 
proach, cursing himself for a fool and a 
presumptuous madman, pitifully craving her 
pardon, and declaring that he did not de- 
serve her kindness, and yet that he could 
not live without it, and that anyhow he 
would be dead soon, and thus cease to trouble 
her. But she, being thus passionately 
assailed, showed such sweet tenderness and 
compunction and pity, that M. de M^ro- 
sailles came very near to forgetting that he 
was playing a comedy, and threw himself 
into his part with eagerness, redoubling his 
vehemence, and feeling now full half of 
what he said. For the Princess was to his 
eyes far more beautiful in her softer mood. 
Yet he remembered his wager, and, at last, 
when she was nearly in tears and ready, as 
it seemed, to do anything to give him com- 
fort, he cried desperately : 

58 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

" Ah, leave, leave me ! Leave me to die 
alone ! Yet, for pity's sake, before you go, 
and before I die, give me your forgiveness, 
and let your lips touch my forehead in token 
of it. Then I shall die in peace." 

At that the Princess blushed still more, 
and her eyes were wet, and shone, for she 
was deeply touched at his misery and at the 
sad prospect of the death for love of so gal- 
lant a gentleman. Thus she could scarcely 
speak for emotion ; and the Marquis seeing 
her emotion was himself deeply affected ; 
and she rose from her chair, and bent over 
him, and whispered comfort to him. Then 
she leant down, and very lightly touched 
his forehead with her lips ; he felt her 
eyelashes, which were wet with tears, brush 
the skin of his forehead ; and then she 
sobbed and covered her face with her hands. 
Indeed his state seemed to her most pitiful. 

Thus M. de Merosailles had won one of 
his three kisses ; yet, strange to tell, there 
was no triumph in him, but now he per- 
ceived the baseness of his device ; and the 
sweet kindness of the Princess, working 
together with the great beauty of her 
softened manner, so affected him that he 
thought no more of his wager and could 
not endure to carry on his deception ; noth- 

The Wager of the Marquis de Merosailles. 59 

ing would serve his turn but to confess to 
the Princess what he had done, humbling 
himself in the dust before her, and entreat- 
ing her to pardon him and let him find for- 

Impelled by these feelings, after he had 
lain still a few moments listening to the 
Princess weeping, he leapt suddenly out of 
bed, showing himself fully dressed under 
the bed-gown which he now eagerly tore 
off ; and he rubbed all the white he could 
from his cheeks, and then he fell on his 
knees before the Princess, crying to her that 
he had played the meanest trick on her, and 
that he was a scoundrel, and no gentleman, 
and that unless she forgave him he should 
in very truth die ; nay, that he would not 
consent to live unless he could win from her 
pardon for his deceit. And in all this he 
was now absolutely in earnest, wondering 
only how he had not been as passionately 
enamoured of her from the first as he had 
feigned himself to be. For a man in love 
can never conceive himself out of it, nor he 
that is out of it in it ; for if he can, he is half 
way to the one or the other, however 
little he may know it. 

At first the Princess sat as though she 
were turned to stone : but when he finished 

62 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

vants and the falconers might not overhear. 
" I ride, sir, to my own funeral." 

" The jest is still afoot, then ? " asked the 
Prince. " Yet I do not see my sister at the 
window to watch you go, and I warrant 
you have made no way with your wager 

" A thousand curses on my wager ! " cried 
the Marquis. " Yes, I have made way with 
the accursed thing, and that is why I now 
go to my death." 

"What, has she kissed you?" cried the 
Prince, with a merry astonished laugh. 

" Yes, sir, she has kissed me once, and 
therefore I go to die." 

" I have heard of many a better reason, 
then," answered the Prince. 

By now the Prince had dismounted, and 
he stood by M. de Merosailles in the middle 
of the bridge, and heard from him how the 
trick had prospered. At this he was much 
tickled, and, alas, he was even more diverted 
when the penitence of the Marquis was 
revealed to him, and was most of all moved 
to merriment when it appeared that the 
Marquis, having gone too near the candle, 
had been caught by its flame, and was so 
terribly singed and scorched that he could 
not bear to live. And while they talked on 

The Wager of the Marquis de M&osailles. 63 

the bridge the Princess looked out on them 
from a lofty narrow window, but neither of 
them saw her. But when the Prince had 
done laughing, he put his arm through his 
friend's and bade him not be a fool, but 
come in and toast the Princess's kiss in a 
draught of wine. " For," he said, " though 
you will never get the other two, yet it is a 
brave exploit to have got one." 

But the Marquis shook his head, and his 
air was so resolute, and so full of sorrow, 
that not only was Rudolf alarmed for his 
reason, but Princess Osra also, at the win- 
dow, wondered what ailed him and why he 
wore such a long face ; and now she noticed 
that he was dressed all in black, and that his 
horse waited for him across the bridge. 

" Not," said she, "that I care what be- 
comes of the impudent rogue ! " Yet she 
did not leave the window, but watched very 
intently to see what M. de Merosailles 
would do. 

For a long while he talked with Rudolf 
on the bridge, Rudolf seeming more serious 
than he was wont to be ; and at last the 
Marquis bent to kiss the Prince's hand, and 
the Prince raised him and kissed him on 
either cheek ; then the Marquis went and 
mounted his horse, and rode off, slowly and 

64 The Heart of Princess Osra 

unattended, into the glades of the forest of 
Zenda ; but the Prince, with a shrug of the 
shoulders and a frown on his brow, entered 
under the portcullis, and disappeared from 
his sister's view. 

Upon this the Princess, assuming an air 
of great carelessness, walked down from the 
room where she was, and found her brother, 
sitting still in his boots and drinking wine ; 
and she said : 

" M. de Merosailles has taken his leave 

" Even so, madame," rejoined Rudolf. 

Then she broke into a fierce attack on 
the Marquis, and on her brother also ; for a 
man, said she, is known by his friends, and 
what a man Rudolf must be to have a 
friend like the Marquis de Merosailles ! 

" Most brothers," she said in fiery tem- 
per, " would make him answer for what he 
has done with his life. But you laugh, nay, 
I daresay you had a hand in it." 

As to this last charge the Prince had the 
discretion to say nothing ; he chose rather 
to answer the first part of what she said, 
and shrugging his shoulders again rejoined : 

" The fool saves me the trouble, for he 
has gone off to kill himself." 

" To kill himself ? " she said, half incredu- 

The Wage* of the Marquis de Me>osailles 65 

lous, but also half believing, because of the 
Marquis's gloomy looks and black clothes. 

" To kill himself," repeated Rudolf. " For 
in the first place you are angry, so he cannot 
live ; in the second he has behaved like a 
rogue, so he cannot live ; and in the third 
place you are so lovely, sister, that he can- 
not live ; and in the first, second, and third 
places he is a fool, so he cannot live." And 
the Prince finished his flagon of wine with 
every sign of ill-humour in his manner. 

" He is well dead," she cried. 

" Oh, as you please," said he. " He is not 
the first brave man who has died on your 
account." And he rose and strode out of 
the room very surlily ; for he had a great 
friendship for M. de Merosailles, and had 
no patience with men who let love make 
dead bones of them. 

The Princess Osra, being left alone, sat 
for a little time in deep thought. There 
rose before her mind the picture of M. de 
Merosailles riding mournfully through the 
gloom of the forest to his death. And 
although his conduct had been all and more 
than all that she had called it, yet it seemed 
hard that he should die for it. Moreover, 
if he now in truth felt what he had before 
feigned, the present truth was an atonement 

66 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

for the past treachery ; and she said to her- 
self that she could not sleep quietly that 
night if the Marquis killed himself in the 
forest. Presently she wandered slowly up 
to her chamber, and looked in the mirror, 
and murmured low, " Poor fellow ! " and 
then with sudden speed she attired herself 
for riding, and commanded her horse to be 
saddled, and darted down the stairs and 
across the bridge, and mounted, and, for- 
bidding any one to accompany her, rode 
away into the forest, following the marks 
of the hoofs of M. de Me'rosailles's horse. 
It was then late afternoon, and the slanting 
rays of the sun, striking through the tree- 
trunks, reddened her face as she rode along, 
spurring her horse, and following hard on 
the track of the forlorn gentleman. But 
what she intended to do if she came up with 
him she did not think. 

When she had ridden an hour or more, 
she saw his horse tethered to a trunk ; and 
there was a ring of trees and bushes near, 
encircling an open grassy spot. Herself 
dismounting, and fastening her horse by 
the Marquis's horse, she stole up, and saw 
M. de Merosailles sitting on the ground, 
his drawn sword lying beside him ; and his 
back was towards her. She held her breath 


The Wager of the Marquis de M&osailles* 67 

and waited a few moments. Then he took 
up the sword and felt the point and also the 
edge of it, and sighed deeply ; and the 
Princess thought that this sorrowful mood 
became him better than any she had seen 
him in before. Then he rose to his feet, 
and took his sword by the blade beneath the 
hilt, and turned the point of it towards his 
heart. But Osra, fearing that the deed 
would be done immediately, called out 
eagerly, "My lord, my lord!" and M. de 
Merosailles turned round with a great start. 
When he saw her, he stood in astonishment, 
his hand still holding the blade of the sword. 
And, standing just on the other side of the 
trees, she said : 

" Is your offence against me to be cured 
by adding an offence against Heaven and the 
Church ? " 

And she looked on him with great severity, 
yet her cheek was flushed, and after a while 
she did not meet his glance. 

11 How came you here, madame?" he 
asked in wonder. 

" I heard," she said, " that you meditated 
this great sin, and I rode after you to forbid 

"Can you forbid what you cause?" he 

68 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

" I am not the cause of it," she said, " but 
your own trickery." 

" It is true. I am not worthy to live," 
cried the Marquis, smiting the hilt of his 
sword on the ground. " I pray you, madame, 
leave me alone to die. For I cannot tear 
myself from the world so long as I see your 
face." And as he spoke he knelt on one 
knee, as though he were doing homage to her. 

The Princess caught at the bough of the 
tree under which she stood, and pulled the 
bough down, so that its leaves half hid her 
face, and the Marquis saw little more than 
her eyes from among the foliage. Thus 
being better able to speak to him, she said 
softly : 

" And dare you die, unforgiven ?" 

" I had prayed for forgiveness before you 
found me, madame," said he. 

" Of heaven, my lord?" 

" Of heaven, madame. For of heaven I 
dare to ask it." 

The bough swayed up and down ; now 
Osra's gleaming hair, and now her cheek, 
and always her eyes were seen through the 
leaves. And presently the Marquis heard a 
voice asking : 

"Does heaven forgive unasked ?" 

"Indeed, no," he said, wondering. 

The Wager of the Marquis de M&osailles, 69 

"And," she said, " are we poor mortals 
kinder than heaven ? " 

The Marquis rose, and took a step or two 
towards where the bough swayed up and 
down, and then knelt again. 

" A great sinner," said he, " cannot believe 
himself forgiven." 

" Then he wrongs the power of which he 
seeks forgiveness ; for forgiveness is divine." 

" Then I will ask it, and, if I obtain it, I 
shall die happy." 

Again the bough swayed : and Osra 
said : 

" Nay, if you will die, you may die unfor- 

M. de Merosailles hearing these words 
sprang to his feet, and came towards the 
bough, until he was so close that he touched 
the green leaves ; through them the eyes 
of Osra gleamed : the sun's rays struck on 
her eyes, and they danced in the sun ; and 
her cheeks were reddened by the same or 
some other cause. And the evening was 
very still, and there were no sounds in the 

" I cannot believe that you forgive. The 
crime is so great," said he. 

" It was great : yet I forgive." 

" I cannot believe it," said he again, and 

70 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

he looked at the point of his sword, and then 
he looked through the leaves at the Prin- 

" I cannot do more than say that if you 
will live, I will forgive. And we will forget." 

" By heaven, no," he whispered. " If I 
must forget to be forgiven, then I will 
remember and be unforgiven." 

The faintest laugh reached him from 
among the foliage. 

" Then I will forget, and you shall be for- 
given," said she. 

The Marquis put up his hand, and held a 
leaf aside, and he said again : 

" I cannot believe myself forgiven. Is 
there no token of forgiveness ?" 

" Pray, my lord, do not put the leaves 

11 I still must die, unless I have sure war- 
rant of forgiveness." 

" Ah, you try to make me think that ! " 

" By heaven, it is true ! " And again he 
pointed his sword at his heart, and he swore 
on his honour that unless she gave him a 
token he would still kill himself. 

" Oh," said the Princess with great petu- 
lance, " I wish I had not come ! " 

" Then I should have been dead by now 
dead, unforgiven." 

The Wager of the Marquis de Merosailles* 7 1 

" But you will still die ! " 

" Yes, I must still die, unless " 

" Sheathe your sword, my lord. The sun 
strikes it, and it dazzles my eyes." 

" That cannot be : for your eyes are 
brighter than sun and sword together." 

"Then I must shade them with the leaves." 

" Yes, shade them with the leaves," he 
whispered. " Madame, is there no token 
of forgiveness ? " 

In the silence that followed his eyes spoke, 
at last she said : 

''Why did you swear on your honour?" 

" Because it is an oath that I cannot 

" Indeed I wish that I had not come," 
sighed Princess Osra. 

Again came silence. The bough was 
pressed down for an instant ; then it swayed 
swiftly up again ; and its leaves brushed the 
cheek of M. de Merosailles. And he 
laughed loudly and joyfully. 

" Something touched my cheek," said he. 

" It must have been a leaf," said Princess 

-Ah, a leaf!" 

" I think so," said Princess Osra. 

" Then it was a leaf of the Tree of Life," 
said M. de Merosailles. 

72 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

" I wish some one would set me on my 
horse," said Osra. 

" That you may ride back to the castle 
alone ? " 

"Yes, unless you would relieve my 
brother's anxiety." 

" It would be courteous to do that much," 
said the Marquis. 

So they mounted, and rode back through 
the forest. 

In an hour the Princess had come, and in 
the space of something over two hours they 
returned ; yet during all this time they spoke 
hardly a word : and although the sun was 
now set, yet the glow remained on the face 
and in the eyes of Princess Osra ; while M. 
de Merosailles, being forgiven, rode with a 
smile on his lips. 

But when they came to the castle, Prince 
Rudolf ran out to meet them, and he cried 
almost before he reached them : 

" Hasten, hasten ! There is not a mo- 
ment to lose, if the Marquis values life or 
liberty ! " And when he came to them he 
told them that a waiting-woman had been 
false to M. de Merosailles and, after taking 
his money, had hid herself in his chamber, 
and seen the first kiss that the Princess 
gave him, and, having made some pretext to 

The Wager of the Marquis de Merosailles* 73 

gain a holiday, had gone to the King, who 
was hunting near, and betrayed the whole 
matter to him. 

" And one of my gentlemen," he contin- 
ued, " has ridden here to tell me. In an 
hour the Guards will be here, and if the 
King catches you, my lord, you will hang 
as sure as I live." 

The Princess turned very pale, but M. de 
Merosailles said haughtily, " I ask your 
pardon, sir, but the King dares not hang me. 
For I am a gentleman and a subject of the 
King of France." 

" Man, man ! " cried Rudolf. " The Lion 
will hang you first, and think of all that af- 
terwards ! Come now, it is dusk. You shall 
dress yourself as my groom, and I will ride 
to the frontier, and you shall ride behind me, 
and thus you may get safe away. I cannot 
have you hanged over such a trifle." 

" I would have given my life willingly 
for what you call a trifle, sir," said the Mar- 
quis with a bow to Osra. 

" Then have the trifle and life too," said 
Rudolf derisively. " Come in with me, and 
I will give you your livery ! " 

When the Prince and M. de Merosailles 
came out again on the drawbridge the even- 
ing had fallen, and it was dark ; their horses 

74 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

stood at the end of the bridge, and by the 
horses stood the Princess. 

" Quick ! " said she. " For a peasant who 
came in, bringing a load of wood, saw a troop 
of men coming over the crown of the hill, 
and he says they are the King's Guard." 

" Mount, man ! " cried the Prince to M. 
de Merosailles, who was now dressed as a 
groom. " Perhaps we can get clear, or per- 
haps they will not dare to stop me." 

But the Marquis hesitated a little, for he 
did not like to run away ; but the Princess 
ran a little forward and, shading her eyes 
with her hand, cried, " See there ! I see the 
gleam of steel in the dark. They have 
reached the top of the hill, and are riding 

Then Prince Rudolf sprang on his horse, 
calling again to M. de Merosailles, " Quick, 
quick ! Your life hangs on it ! " 

Then at last the Marquis, though he was 
most reluctant to depart, was about to spring 
on his horse, when the Princess turned and 
glided back swiftly to them. And let it be 
remembered that evening had fallen thick 
and black she came to her brother and put 
out her hand, and grasped his hand, and 
said : 

" My lord, I forgive your wrong, and I 

The Wager of the Marquis de Me'rosailles* 75 

thank you for your courtesy, and I wish 
you farewell." 

Prince Rudolf, astonished, gazed at her 
without speaking. But she, moving very 
quickly in spite of the darkness, ran to 
where M. de Merosailles was about to spring 
on his horse, and she flung* one arm lightly 
about his neck, and she said : 

" Farewell, dear brother, God preserve 
you. See that no harm comes to my good 
friend, M. de Merosailles." And she kissed 
him lightly on the cheek. Then she sud- 
denly gave a loud cry of dismay, exclaiming, 
" Alas, what have I done ? Ah, what have I 
done?" and she hid her face in her two hands. 

Prince Rudolf burst into a loud short 
laugh, yet he said nothing to his sister, but 
again urged the Marquis to mount his 
horse. And the Marquis, who was in a sad 
tumult of triumph and of woe, leapt up ; and 
they rode out, and turning their faces to- 
wards the forest, set spurs to their horses 
and vanished at a breakneck speed into the 
glades. And no sooner were they gone 
than the troopers of the King's Guard clat- 
tered at a canter up to the end of the 
bridge, where the Princess Osra stood. 
But when their captain saw the Princess, 
he drew rein. 

7 6 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

"What is your errand, sir?" she asked 
most coldly and haughtily. 

" Madame, we are ordered to bring the 
Marquis de Merosailles alive or dead into 
the King's presence, and we have informa- 
tion that he is in the castle, unless, indeed, 
he were one of the horsemen who rode 
away just now." 

" The horsemen you saw were my brother 
the Prince and his groom," said Osra. 
" But if you think that M. de Merosailles is 
in the castle, pray search the castle from 
keep to cellar; and if you find him, carry 
him to my father, according to your orders." 

Then the troopers dismounted in great 
haste, and ransacked the castle from keep 
to cellar ; and they found the clothes of 
the Marquis, and the white powder with 
which f he had whitened his face, but the 
Marquis they did not find. So the captain 
came again to the Princess, who still stood 
at the end of the bridge, and said : 

" Madame, he is not in the castle." 

" Is he not ?" said she, and turned away, 
and, walking to the middle of the bridge, 
looked down into the water of the moat. 

" Was it in truth the Prince's groom who 
rode with him, madame ? " asked the cap- 
tain, following her. 

The Wager of the Marquis de Me>osailles* 77 

" In truth, sir, it was so dark," answered 
the Princess, " that I could not myself 
clearly distinguish the man's face." 

" One was the Prince, for I saw you em- 
brace him, madame." 

" You do well to conclude that that was 
my brother," said Osra, smiling a little. 

" And to the other, madame, you gave 
your hand." 

" And now I give it to you," said she 
with haughty insolence. " And if to my 
father's servant, why not to my brother's?" 
And she held out her hand that he might 
kiss it, and turned away from him, and 
looked down into the water again. 

" But we found M. de Merosailles's 
clothes in the castle ! " persisted the cap- 

" He may well have left something of his 
in the castle," said the Princess. 

"I will ride after them ! " cried the cap- 

" I doubt if you will catch them," smiled 
the Princess ; for by now the pair had been 
gone half an hour, and the frontier was but 
ten miles from the castle, and they could 
not be overtaken. Yet the captain rode off 
with his men, and pursued till he met 
Prince Rudolf returning alone, having seen 

78 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

M. de Merosailles safe on his way. And 
Rudolf had paid the sum of a thousand 
crowns to the Marquis, so that the fugitive 
was well provided for his journey, and, 
travelling with many relays of horses, made 
good his escape from the clutches of King 

But the Princess Osra stayed a long time 
looking down at the water in the moat. 
Sometimes she sighed, and then, again, 
she frowned, and, although nobody was 
there, and it was very dark into the bar- 
gain, more than once she blushed. And at 
last she turned to go into the castle. But, 
as she went, she murmured softly to her- 
self : 

" Why I kissed him the first time I know ; 
it was in pity. And why I kissed him the 
second time I know ; it was in forgiveness. 
But why I kissed him the third time, or 
what that kiss meant," said Osra, " heaven 

And she went in with a smile on her lips. 

The Madness of Lord Harry Culverhousc* 

" SEEING that my father Henry is dead, 
and that I am King ; seeing also that I am 
no longer a bachelor, but a married man " 
and here he bowed to Margaret of Tus- 
cany, his newly wedded wife; "and seeing 
that Osra's turned twenty years of age 
why, we are all to be sober folk at Strelsau 
from this day forward, and we are to play 
no more pranks. Here's a pledge to it ! " 

And having said this, King Rudolf III. 
took a deep draught of wine. 

At this moment the ushers announced 
that the Lord Harry Culverhouse had come 
to take his leave of their Majesties and of 
the Princess. This gentleman had accom- 
panied the Embassy that came from Eng- 
land to congratulate the King on his mar- 
riage, and he had stayed some months in 
Strelsau, very eagerly acceding to the King's 
invitation to prolong his visit. For such 
were his folly and headstrong passion, that 

8o The Heart of Princess Osra. 

he had fallen most desperately in love with 
the fair face of Princess Osra, and could not 
endure to live out of her presence. Yet 
now he came to bid farewell, and when he 
was ushered in, Rudolf received him with 
much graciousness, and made him a present 
of his own miniature set in diamonds, while 
the Queen gave him her miniature set in 
the lid of a golden casket. In return, Lord 
Harry prayed the King to accept a richly- 
mounted sword, and the Queen an ivory fan, 
painted by the greatest artist of France and 
bearing her cipher in jewels. Then he came 
to Princess Osra, and she, having bidden 
him farewell, said : 

" I am a poor maid, my lord, and I can 
give no great gift, but take this pin from 
my hair and keep it for my sake." 

And she drew out a golden pin from her 
hair, a long and sharp pin, bearing for its 
head her cipher in brilliants, and she gave it 
to him, smiling. 

But he, bowing low and then falling on 
his knee, offered her a box of red morocco 
leather, and when she opened it she saw a 
necklace of rubies of great splendour. The 
Princess flushed red, seeing that the gift 
was most costly. And she would fain have 
refused it, and held it out again to Lord 

The Madness of Lord Harry Culverhouse, 81 

Harry. But he turned swiftly away, and, 
bowing once more, withdrew. Then the 
Princess said to her brother, " It is too 

The King, seeing how splendid the gift 
was, frowned a little, and then said : 

" He must be a man of very great wealth. 
They are rich in England. I am sorry the 
gift is so great, but we cannot refuse it 
without wounding his honour." 

So the Princess set the ruby necklace with 
her other jewels, and thought for a day or 
two that Lord Harry was no wiser than 
other men, and then forgot him. 

Now Lord Harry Culverhouse, on leaving 
the King's presence, had mounted his horse, 
which was a fine charger and splendidly 
equipped, and ridden alone out of Strelsau ; 
for he had dismissed all his servants and 
despatched them with suitable gratuities to 
their own country. He rode through the 
afternoon, and in the evening he reached a 
village fifteen miles away ; here he stopped 
at a cottage, cfnd an old man came out and 
escorted him in. A bundle lay on the table 
in the little parlour of the cottage. 

" Here are the clothes, my lord," said the 
old man, laying his hand on the bundle. 

" And here are mine," answered Lord 

82 The Heart of Princess Osra, 

Harry. " And the horse stands ready for 
you." With this he began to pull off the 
fine clothes in which he had had audience 
of the King, and he opened the bundle and 
put on the old and plain suit which it con- 
tained. Then he held out his hand to the 
old man, saying, " Give me the five crowns, 
Solomon, and our bargain is complete." 

Then Solomon the Jew gave him five 
crowns and bade him farewell, and he placed 
the crowns in his purse and walked out of 
the cottage, possessing nothing in the world 
saving his old clothes, five crowns, and the 
golden pin that had fastened the ruddy hair 
of Princess Osra. For everything else that 
he had possessed, his lands and houses in 
England, his horses and carriages, his money, 
his clothes, and all that was his, he had 
bartered with Solomon the Jew, in order that 
he might buy the ruby necklace which he 
had given to Princess Osra. Such was the 
strange madness wrought in him by her face. 

It was now late evening, and he walked 
to and fro all night. In the morning he 
went to the shop of a barber and, in return 
for one of his crowns, the barber cropped 
his long curls short and shaved off his 
moustaches, and gave him a dye with which 
he stained his complexion to a darker tint ; 

The Madness of Lord Harry Culverhouse* 83 

and he made his face dirty, and soiled his 
hands and roughened the skin of them by 
chafing them on some flints which lay by 
the roadside. Then, changing a second 
crown, he bought a loaf of bread, and set 
off to trudge to Strelsau, for in Strelsau was 
Osra, and he would not be anywhere else 
in the world. And when he had arrived 
there, he went to a sergeant of the King's 
Guard, and prevailed on him by a present 
of three crowns to enlist him as a trooper, 
and this the sergeant, having found that 
Lord Harry could ride and knew how to 
use his sword, agreed to do. Thus Lord 
Harry became a trooper in the Guard of 
King Rudolf, having for all his possessions, 
save what the King's stores afforded him, 
a few pence and the golden pin that had 
fastened the hair of Princess Osra. But 
nobody knew him, except Solomon the Jew, 
and he, having made a good profit, held his 
peace, both then and afterwards. 

Many a day Lord Harry mounted guard 
at the palace, and often he saw the King, 
with the Queen, ride out and back ; but 
they did not notice the face of the trooper. 
Sometimes he saw the Princess also, but 
she did not look at him, although he could 
not restrain himself from looking at her; 

84 The Heart of Princess Osra, 

but since every man looked at her she had 
grown accustomed to being gazed at and 
took no heed of it. But once she wore the 
ruby necklace, and the breath of the trooper 
went quick and eager when he saw it on 
her neck ; and a sudden flush of colour 
spread over all his face, so that the Princess, 
chancing to glance at him in passing, and 
seeing the colour beneath and through the 
dye that stained him, was greatly astonished, 
and she reined in her horse for an instant 
and looked very intently at him ; yet she 
rode on again in silence. 

That evening there came to the quarters 
of the King's Guard a waiting-woman, who 
asked to see the trooper who had mounted 
guard at the west gate of the palace that 
day ; and when he came the woman held 
out to him a box of red morocco leather, 
saying, " It is for you." 

But he answered, " It is not for me," and, 
turning away, left her. And this happened 
on three evenings. Then, on the fourth 
day, it was again his turn to mount guard 
at the palace ; and when he had sat there 
on his horse for an hour, the Princess Osra 
rode out from under the portico ; she rode 
alone and the ruby necklace was on her 
neck : and she said : 

The Madness of Lord Harry Culverhouse* 85 

" I am going to ride outside the city by 
the river bank. Let a trooper follow me 
some way behind." And she signed with 
her hand to Lord Harry, and he rode after 
her through the streets, and out of the 
Western Gate ; and they turned along the 
bank of the river. When they had gone 
three or four miles from the city, Osra 
halted, and beckoned to Lord Harry to 
approach her ; and he came. But when she 
was about to speak to him and tell him that 
she knew him, a sudden new madness came 
on him ; he seized her bridle, and dug his 
spurs deep into his horse's flanks, and the 
horse bounded forward at a gallop. In 
alarm the Princess cried out, but he did not 
heed her. Along the bank they galloped : 
and when they met any one, which happened 
seldom (for the place was remote, and it was 
now evening), he bade her cover her face, 
and she obeyed, twisting her lace handker- 
chief about her face. Thus they rode till 
they came at nightfall to a bluff of rock high 
above the stream. Here Lord Harry sud- 
denly checked the horses, flung himself from 
his saddle, and bade the Princess dismount. 
She obeyed, and stood facing him, pale 
with fear and apprehension, but wearing a 
proud and scornful air. And he cried : 

86 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

" Is it not well you should die ? For you 
live but to madden men and drive them to 
sin and folly." 

" Nay," said she, "to men of good heart 
beauty leads to goodness. From yourself 
come the sin and folly, my lord ; " and she 
laid hold of the ruby necklace and broke 
the clasp of it, and flung it on the ground 
before him. He took no heed of it, but 
seized her hand, and drew her to the edge 
of the bluff, saying : 

" The world will be safer if I fling you 

Then she looked in his face, and a sudden 
pity entered into her heart, and she said 
very gently : 

" Sit down, my lord, and let me put my 
hands on your brow, for I think you are in 
a fever." 

He sat down, all trembling and shaking 
like a man with ague, and she stripped off 
her gauntlets, and took his forehead be- 
tween her hands ; and he lay there quiet 
with his head between her hands. Pres- 
ently his eyes closed, and he slept. But 
Osra did not know what to do, for darkness 
had fallen, and she dared not leave him 
alone there by the river. So she sat where 
she was, and in an hour, the night being 

The Madness of Lord Harry Culvcrhousc* 87 

fine and not cold, she grew weary ; her 
hands fell away from his brow, and she 
sank back on the green turf, pillowing her 
head on a curved arm, and there she slept 
with the mad lord by her and the ruby 
necklace lying near them. 

At midnight Lord Harry Culverhouse 
awoke, and saw Princess Osra sleeping 
peacefully, with a smile on her lips such as 
decks a child's in sleep. He rose and stood 
up on his feet, looking at her : and he heard 
nothing but the sound of the horses cropping 
the grass a little way off. Then he drew 
near her and gazed long on her face : and 
she opened her eyes and saw him ; she 
smiled at him, and she said : 

" Even here I am guarded by one of the 
gentlemen who guard me in the palace." 
And she closed her eyes again and turned 
to sleep. 

A shiver ran through him. He dug his 
nails into the palms of his hands, and, turn- 
ing, walked swiftly up and down on the 
bluff by the side of the river, while Osra 

Presently he fell on his knees beside 
her, beginning to murmur in a rapid rush 
of words : but he did not now curse her 
beauty, but blessed God for it, and blessed 

88 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

Him also for the preservation of his own 
honour. Thus he spent the night till day 
was near : then he bent over Osra, and 
looked once more on her : and he took up 
the ruby necklace and laid it lightly about 
her neck. Feeling the touch of it, cool 
and wet from the dew, she again opened 
her eyes, and, putting her knuckles in them, 
she rubbed gently ; and she gasped a gentle 
yawn, saying: " Heigho, I am sleepy!" 
and sat up. And she said : 

" Are you riot sleepy, my lord ?" 

" I am on watch, madame," said Lord 
Harry Culverhouse. 

As the Princess sat up, the ruby necklace 
fell from her neck into her lap. Seeing it, 
she held it up to him, saying : 

" Take it again, and go to your own home. 
I am sure you gave too great a price for 

He smiled, for she did not know how 
great the price was, and he asked : 

" Must I, in my turn, give back the pin 
that fastened your hair?" 

" No, keep the pin it is worth nothing," 
she smiled. " Is it safe for me to go to 
sleep a little longer?" 

" Who would harm you, madame ? Even 
I have not harmed you." 

The Madness of Lord Harry Culverhouse. 89 

" You ! " said she, with a little laugh. 
"You would not harm me." 

And she lay down again and closed her 

Then Lord Harry Culverhouse sat down 
on the ground, resting his chin on his knees, 
and clasping his hands about his shins, 
and he cursed himself bitterly not now be- 
cause he meditated any harm to her for his 
hot fury was past, and he would have died 
before a hair of her head should be hurt- 
but because of the evil that his wild and 
reckless madness had brought upon her. 
For he knew that soon there would be a 
pursuit, and that, if she and he were found 
there, it would become known who he was, 
and her fame would suffer injurious rumours 
by reason of what he had done. Therefore 
he made up his mind what he must next do, 
and he abandoned all the dreams that had 
led him into the foolish adventure on which 
he had embarked, and put from him the 
wickedness that had filled his heart when 
first he carried her to the bluff over the river. 
He rose on to his knees, and prayed that 
if his deed were a sin for it seemed to 
him to be a necessary thing then that 
it might be forgiven, but that, in any case, 
no hurt or harm should befall the Princess 

90 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

Osra by reason of anything that he had 
done. Finally he commended his soul to 
God. Then he took the ruby necklace in 
his hand and, holding it, walked to the edge 
of the bluff. 

But at this instant the sound of the hoofs 
of a horse struck on his ear ; the sound was 
loud and close, and he had no more time 
than to turn round before a horse was reined 
in suddenly by him, and a man leapt from 
it and ran at him and grappled with him. 
And Lord Harry perceived that the man 
was the King. For when Osra did not re- 
turn, search parties had been sent out ; the 
King himself headed one, and, having the 
best horse and being urged on by love and 
fear for his sister, he had outridden all the 
rest and had chanced to come alone where 
Osra and Lord Harry were ; and he gripped 
Lord Harry furiously, cursing him for a 
scoundrel and demanding what he had done 
to the Princess. Then Lord Harry said : 

" Do you not know me, sire ? I am Harry 

Greatly astonished, the King loosed his 
hold and fell back a pace, for he could not 
understand what he heard, but yet knew the 
voice of his friend. Then, looking down, he 
beheld Osra sleeping peacefully as a child on 

The Madness of Lord Harry Culverhouse* 91 

the ground, with her cloak spread under 
her, that she might take no harm from the 
damp. But Lord Harry caught him by the 
arm, crying : 

" Are there others coming after you ?" 
"Aye," said the King, "many others. 
The whole of the Guard are roused, and 
seek her high and low in the city and out- 
side. But how came you here, man ?" 

Then Lord Harry told the King what he 
had done, speaking very briefly and hastily, 
but yet sparing nothing ; and when he told 
him how he had carried off the Princess, 
the King's hand flew to the hilt of his sword. 
But Lord Harry said " Not yet," and con- 
tinued to tell the King how Osra had pitied 
him, how he had watched by her, and how 
she had slept again, bidding him keep the 
pin. Then glancing at Osra, he lowered 
his voice and spoke very quick and urgently, 
and the King held out his hand and shook 
Lord Harry's hand, asking : " Is there no 
other way?" But Lord Harry shook his 
head ; then he kissed the King's hand ; next 
he went and kissed Osra's hand very softly, 
and looked for the last time on her face ; 
and he drew the golden pin from his purse 
and he put it gently and deftly among her 
hair. Then taking the ruby necklace in his 

92 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

own hand and clenching it tight, he said to 
King Rudolf: 

" Sire, there are some in the city that 
knew me before, but have not known me 
since I have been in your Guard, because I 
have altered my face. Take care that you 
so alter it that they do not know me again." 

The King's breath caught in his throat, 
for he had loved Lord Harry Culverhouse, 
and he asked again : 

" Is there no other way ?" 

"Hark!" said the other, "I hear the 
horses of your Guard drawing near \- I hear 
them to east and west and north ; and do 
you not see shapes riding there to the south, 
across the river? If I ride from here alive, 
I shall be taken, and the truth must be 
known. For my sake and hers, strike, sire." 

The King took Lord Harry Culverhouse 
by the arm and drew him to him, saying: 

"Must it be so, Harry? And we have 
lived as friends together ! " 

" The sound of the hoofs is very near, 


The King drew himself up to his height, 
and he raised his hat from his head, and 
bowed low to Lord Harry Culverhouse, and 
he said : 

" Now praise be to God for the restora- 

The Madness of Lord Harry Culverhouse* 93 

tion of this gentleman to a sound mind, and 
may Christ grant him mercy for the sake of 
his honourable death !" 

And he drew his sword from its sheath, 
and came up to Lord Harry Culverhouse, 
who stood on the edge of the bluff. The 
King raised his sword and struck with all 
his strength ; the head split under the blow, 
and Lord Harry Culverhouse fell dead from 
the bluff into the river, holding the ruby 
necklace in his clenched hand. But the 
King shivered, and a short sob burst from 

On this instant there arose an eager glad 
cry, and twenty of the Guard rushed for- 
ward, greeting the King and rejoiced to see 
the Princess. Roused by the noise of their 
coming, she sat up again, rubbing her eyes, 
and cried : 

" Where is he ? Where is Lord Harry ? " 

And she looked round on the troopers, 
and they gazed on her, much astonished at 
hearing what she said. But Rudolf came to 
her and took her hand, saying : 

" Why, Osra, you have been dreaming ! 
There is no Lord Harry here. Lord Harry 
Culverhouse is far off in his own country. 
Did that rascal of a trooper frighten you ? " 

Her eyes grew wide in wonder ; but 

94 The Heart of Princess Osra 

before she could speak he turned to the 
Guard, saying : 

" By heaven's pleasure I came in time to 
prevent any harm, except the loss of a neck- 
lace my sister wore. For as I rode up, I 
saw a fellow stooping down by her and 
fumbling with the clasp of her necklace. 
He was one of your troop, and had ridden 
out behind her, and he must have carried 
her off by force : now he was endeavouring 
to rob her, and as I rode up to him he 
sprang away from her, holding her necklace 
in his hand : but I leapt down from my 
horse and ran at him, and he retreated in 
fear. Then I drew my sword, and drove 
him back to the edge of the bluff : and then 
I split his skull, and he fell into the river, 
still holding the necklace. But, thanks to 
God, the Princess is not hurt. Let search 
be made for the fellow's body, for perhaps 
the necklace will be still in his hand." 

But one cried, " How came they here ? " 

" Ah, sister," said the King, fixing his 
eyes on Osra, " how came you here?" 

Reading in the King's eyes the answer 
that he would have, she said : 

"The trooper compelled me to come 
hither with him, and he threatened to kill 
me if I would not give him my necklace. 

The Madness of Lord Harry Culverhousc* 95 

But I refused : then he drew a knife and 
menaced me with it, and I fell into a swoon, 
and knew no more until I awoke and found 
you here ; and now I see that my necklace 
is gone." 

" Bring her horse," the King commanded, 
"and ride in front and behind. We will 
return to the city at the best speed we 

Then he mounted the Princess on her 
horse, and rode by her side, supporting her 
with his arm : and the troopers were some 
way off in front and behind. But the 
Princess felt the pin again in her hair, and 
putting up her hand she pulled it out, and 
she said : 

" He has given me back my pin." 

11 Of whom do you speak ? " asked the 

" Of Lord Harry Culverhouse. Is he 
indeed dead, Rudolf?" 

" Are you indeed still dreaming ? " an- 
swered the King with a laugh. "What 
had that fellow to do with Harry Culver- 
house ? " 

" But the pin ?" she cried. 

" My wife set it in your hair, before you 
started, for she wished to replace the one 
you gave to Lord Harry." 

96 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

" She did not touch my hair to-day ! " 
cried the Princess. 

" Aye, but she did," said he. 

The Princess suddenly fell to sobbing ; 
and she said : 

" Tell me the truth, tell me the truth. 
Surely it was in truth Lord Harry Culver- 

Then Rudolf drew very close to her, and 
said softly : 

" Sweet sister, the noble gentleman whom 
we knew, he whom I loved, and who loved 
you in chivalrous deference, went from us 
two months ago. Be not troubled about 
him, for now all is well with him. But 
there was an unhappy man with you, who 
was not our Harry Culverhouse, and who 
had murderous and mad thoughts in his 
heart. Yet at the end he also died as 
readily and as nobly as our dear friend 
himself would have died for your sake. I 
pray you ask no more of him, but be con- 
tented to know that though he died by the 
sword yet he died in peace and willingly. 
But of our dear friend, as we knew him, 
think as much as you will, for the love of an 
honest gentleman is a good thing to think 

The Princess Osra, hearing this, laid her 

The Madness of Lord Harry Culverhouse. 97 

hand in her brother's hand, and for a long 
while she did not speak. Then she said : 

" But our friend will not come again, 
Rudolf ? " 

" No, you will never see our friend again," 
answered the King. 

" Then when you see him for I think 
you will see him once again lay this pin in 
his hand, and bid him take and keep it for 
the sake of the love I bear him : perhaps 
he will hear you." 

" It may be, I cannot tell," said the King. 

" And if he has the necklace," said she, 
" pray him to give that to you, and sell it, 
Rudolf, and give the value of it in gifts to 
the poor. Yes, to all that are unhappy and 
afflicted, even as the poor man who was 
with me to-night." 

" So be it, Osra," said the King, and he 
kissed her. But she burst again suddenly 
into passionate weeping, calling God to 
witness that her face was a curse to her and 
a curse to her friends, and praying the King 
to suffer her to take the veil in a convent, 
that she might trouble honest men no more. 
Thus he brought her in a sad plight to the 
palace, and gave her into the arms of his 
wife, still sobbing bitterly. And he himself 
took the pin, and when the body of the 

98 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

mad trooper was found, with his own hand 
he covered the face, and put the pin in the 
hand from which he took the ruby necklace : 
and he sold the necklace, and used the pro- 
ceeds of it as his sister had desired. 

Thus the madness of Lord Harry Culver- 
house, which was bred in him by the beauty 
of the Princess Osra, worked its way with 
him, and brought him first into peril of great 
villainy, and at last to death. And his name 
passed no more on the lips of any in Strel- 
sau, nor between King Rudolf and his sister, 
while the story that the King had told to 
the troopers was believed by all, and none 
save the King knew what Lord Harry 
Culverhouse had done in his madness. But 
Osra mourned for him, and for a long while 
she would not go abroad, nor receive any 
of the princes or nobles who came to the 
Court, but lay still sick and full of grief, 
bewailing the harm that she had wrought. 
Yet, as time passed, she grew again happy, 
for she was young, and the world was sweet 
to her : and then, as King Rudolf had 
bidden her, she remembered Lord Harry 
Culverhouse as he had been before his mad- 
ness came upon him. Yet still more did 
she remember how, even in his madness, 
he had done her no harm, but had watched 

The Madness of Lord Harry Culverhouse*. 99 

beside her through the night, and had, as 
morning dawned, entreated death at the 
hands of the King, preferring to die rather 
than that the talk of a single idle tongue 
should fall foully on her name. Therefore 
she mourned for him with secret tears. 

But he, although no monument marked his 
grave, and although men spoke only of the 
mad trooper who had robbed the Princess, 
yet slept soundly and at peace : and his 
right hand lay clenched upon his heart, and 
in it the golden pin that had fastened the 
ruddy hair of Princess Osra. 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman. 

" I AM tired of men," cried Princess Osra, 
" and of suitors, and of princes. I will go 
to Zenda and ride in the forest all alone." 

" You will meet men even there," said the 

u How do you know that, sire?" she 
asked with a smile. 

" At least I have found it impossible to 
avoid meeting women anywhere." 

" I do not think it is the same thing," 
observed Osra, smiling again. 

The King said no more, but let her go 
her own way ; and to Zenda she went, and 
rode in the forest all alone, meeting for 
many days no man at all, though, perhaps, 
she thought a little of those whom she had 
met, and (who can tell?) now and then of 
one whom she should some day meet. 
For the mind loves to entertain itself with 
such idle musings, and they are hardly 
conscious till a sudden smile or a beat of 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman* 101 

the heart betrays them to the abashed 
thinker. Just in this manner a flush had 
chanced to rise to Osra's cheek one day 
as she rode in a reverie, being above ten 
miles from the Castle and on the very edge 
of the kingdom's frontier, which skirts 
the extremity of the forest on the east. 
Breaking off her thoughts, half ashamed of 
them, she looked up and saw a very fine and 
powerful horse tethered to a tree a few 
yards away, saddled and bridled. Then she 
said to herself with a sigh, " Alas, here is a 
man as my brother said !" And she shook 
her head very sorrowfully. 

The next instant she saw, as she had fore- 
boded, a man approaching her ; indeed, the 
matter was as bad as could be, for he was 
young and handsome, finely dressed, car- 
rying a good sword by his side and a brace 
of pistols mounted in silver in his belt. 
He held a feathered hat in his hand, and, 
advancing with a deep bow, knelt on one 
knee by the Princess's horse, saying : 

" Madame, if you will, you can do me 
a great service." 

" If it be in my power, sir," she answered 
for since fate compelled her to meet a 
man, she would not show him rudeness 
" I am at your service." 

102 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

11 You see my horse there, madame ? He 
is as dear as my life to me ; and I fear I 
shall lose him, unless I have your aid," 
and he rose and stood looking at the Prin- 

" Why, what threatens him ? " she asked. 

" I will tell you, madame. I come from 
across the frontier, from a secluded village 
nearly ten miles from here. There I live 
with my mother, whom I support. There 
is a rich fellow there, a farmer, Otho by 
name, who is, saving your presence, a 
plaguey boastful fellow. And he is to-day 
to be betrothed." 

"Do you also love the lady?" asked 
Osra, thinking she had come at the cause 
of his trouble. 

14 Not I, madame. But this Otho boasted 
and vaunted so intolerably of her beauty, 
and of his own prowess and attraction, that 
last night I, led away by emulation (nay, I 
am ashamed to say that I had also drunk a 
flask of wine) wagered with him my horse 
against a thousand crowns though the 
horse is worth two thousand that I would 
bring with me to the feast a girl handsomer 
than his Lotta. But now it is eleven o'clock, 
and the feast is at one o'clock, and I have 
no girl to show, ugly or handsome. And if 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman, 103 

I lose my horse I must hang myself, for I 
cannot live without him." 

" You cannot live without your horse ? " 
she asked in surprise. 

*' At least, madame," he answered in some 
confusion, " his loss would go near to break- 
ing my heart." 

" But is this Lotta so handsome that you 
can find none to surpass her ? " 

" She is, indeed, wonderfully handsome. 
In the village they call her the most beauti- 
ful girl in the world." 

" Then, sir, it seems to me that your 
wager was most improvident and rash. For 
you are certain to lose it." 

" Alas, yes ! " he answered in great dis- 
tress. " I am certain to lose ; for there are, 
I think, only two ladies in the world who 
could save me, and one would not." 

" Two ladies ? Who are they ? " 

" Madame," said he, " before you came in 
sight, I sat desolate and despairing on the 
ground, and what I said to myself was, * If 
what men say is true, there is only one lady 
who could save me. But how shall I, poor 
Christian Hantz, come at the Princess Osra ? 
And would she put on a country girl's 
dress and go to the feast with me ? Alas, 
it is impossible ! And there is no other 

104 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

lady in the world beautiful enough.' But 

" Well, sir, what then ? " asked Osra, play- 
ing with her whip and smothering a smile. 

" Then, madame," said Christian, " I 
looked up and I saw you, and I cried, ' A 
fig for the Princess Osra ! For here is a 
lady more beautiful than all they tell of 
Princess Osra ; I will throw myself at her 
feet and pray her in pity to help me.' ' 

Still Osra hid her smile, and so busy was 
she with this task that she did not perceive 
that Christian also hid a smile ; but she 
thought that he did not know her, whereas 
he had seen her several times, and had this 
day tracked her in the forest, knowing that 
she was accustomed to ride there. 

" But where," she asked, " would the lady 
who went with you get the dress you speak 

"At my mother's cottage, madame, where 
my mother would wait on her." 

" And when could she be back at this 
spot ? " 

" By five in the afternoon, madame. I 
would myself escort her." 

" And why, sir, should she rescue you 
from the straits into which your folly has 
led you ? " 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman* 105 

" Alas, madame, for no reason, unless, by 
a divine miracle, she should prove as kind 
as she is beautiful." 

. " You have a rash tongue, sir, in other 
matters than the making of wagers." And 
she looked at him. For she was very sorely 
tempted to do what he prayed of her ; and 
she said : 

" Has the Princess Osra ever ridden 
through your village ? " 

" Never, madame." 

" But some there may know her face, and 
then they will think nothing of mine." 

" It is unlikely that any one there should 
have seen even a picture of her, for they are 
quiet folk and do not go abroad." 

" Besides, in a peasant's dress " began 
Osra meditatively. But she stopped, blush- 
ing and laughing. And Christian caught 
her hand and kissed it, crying : 

" For heaven's sake, come, madame ! " 

He was so earnest, and his earnestness 
so became his bronzed face and bright eyes, 
that Osra could not deny him, but she swore 
him to secrecy, and agreed to ride with him, 
blaming herself all the while very greatly, 
and blaming yet more that Fate which 
would not allow her to be quit of the 
troublesome race of men even in the recesses 
of the forest of Zenda. 

io6 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

Turning their horses, therefore, towards 
the frontier, they set them at a smart canter, 
for there was little time to lose if they were 
to come to the feast by one o'clock ; and 
shortly before noon, having struck a bye*- 
path through the trees, they came on a 
small cottage that stood apart and by it- 
self ; and a hill rose from it. 

"On the other side of the hill lies the 
village, madame," said Christian, jumping 
from his horse. " And this is my cottage. 
Hallo, there, mother !" 

An old woman came out, neatly and 
cleanly clad. Christian ran up to her, spoke 
to her briefly, and brought her to Osra. 
The worthy dame, bewildered by the appear- 
ance and stately air of the Princess, did 
nothing but curtsey and murmur incoherent 
thanks, but Osra, now caught by the ex- 
citement of the enterprise, clapped her 
hands, crying : 

" Quick, quick, or we shall be too late !" 

So Christian lifted her down and led 
away the horses to a shed behind the cot- 
tage. But the old woman led Osra in, and 
took her to the bedroom, where lay a 
dress such as the peasant girls wore. Osra 
took up the skirt, and looked at it curi- 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman* 107 

" Must I indeed wear this ? " she asked. 
" And I am somewhat tall, mother ! " 

The old woman said that nothing would 
serve save the dress, and Osra sighed. Yet 
as there was no help for it, she suffered the 
old woman to help her in getting it on. 

So the door was shut, and Christian sat 
smiling in the sun outside, well pleased at 
the success of his audacious scheme, and 
feeling Otho's crowns already in his pocket. 

Still less did he doubt of this most desir- 
able result when the door of the cottage 
again opened and Osra came out, blushing, 
and yet biting her lips to keep back her 
laughter. Her hair was plaited in two long 
plaits ; she wore a white bodice, and over it 
a jacket of black velvet, and a red skirt hung 
full from her waist to but a very little below 
her knee ; then came hose of red also for it 
was a holiday, and the best of all was worn 
and stout square-toed shoes. Osra in her 
heart loved all except the shoes, yet she de- 
clared that she loathed all except the shoes. 
And Christian, with eyes cast most demurely 
on the ground, prayed her to forgive the 
sad necessity, yet assured her that Lotta 
would die of envy that very day. 

11 Let us go then," said Osra. " For the 
sooner we go, the sooner will it be done, 

io8 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

and I can get rid of these ridiculous clothes. 
Heaven have mercy on me and grant that I 
may meet none who know me ! " 

They were mounting the hill now, the old 
woman standing at the cottage door and 
watching. When they reached the top Osra 
saw a small village nestling in the valley be- 
low, and the sound of music struck on her 
ear. At this a sudden fear seized her, and 
putting out her hand she caught Christian 
by the sleeve, saying : 

"Will they know me?" 

" Not they, madame," said he. But as he 
spoke his eyes fell on a ring that the Princess 
wore, a gem engraved with the Royal Arms. 
"Not they, if you conceal that ring;" and 
for a moment he looked in her face, and he 

Osra uttered a little cry, as she hastily 
plucked the ring from her finger, and gave 
it to him, saying : 

" Keep it safe, and do not forget to give 
it me again." 

But she would not meet his glance, for 
she began from now to suspect that he knew 
who she was. 

The sound of music came from a solid 
square-built house that stood on the out- 
skirts of the village, and coming nearer they 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman* 109 

saw a long table spread in the shade near 
the house, and a company of men and 
women seated at it. The Princess was 
somewhat comforted to find that the girls' 
dresses were in all respects like her own, 
though hers seemed newer and more hand- 
some ; therefore she took courage, and put 
her arm inside Christian's arm, saying : 

" Since I have accepted the part, I will 
play it. Come, sir, let us go and challenge 
Lotta. Your horse is at stake ! " 

" He is in no danger," said Christian, 
" and I am worth a thousand crowns." And 
his eyes most plainly added the reason which 
led him to these comfortable conclusions. 

Now at this moment Otho, having toasted 
the company and accepted their good 
wishes, was standing up before them all, 
Lotta standing by him, her hand in his ; and 
he vowed (as was but right) all manner of 
love and devotion [to her, and declared that 
she was the prettiest girl in the world ; in 
truth she was very pretty, being, although 
low of stature, most admirably formed, 
having golden hair, the pinkest of cheeks 
artd large blue eyes that followed a man 
about in a most appealing and distracting 
manner. So that Otho had good reason 
to be content, and would have come to no 

no The Heart of Princess Osra* 

harm, had it not been for that old extrav- 
agance of lovers which will not allow this 
world to hold more than one pretty girl 
the truth being, of course, quite otherwise. 
But, led on by this infatuation, Otho cried : 

" I dare any man to find so pretty a girl ! 
As for Master Christian whose wager you 
heard why, this evening his fine horse shall 
feed in my stable ! " 

" Softly, friend Otho, softly," came to the 
ears of the feasters from behind the trees. 
" Mistress Lotta is very pretty, but I have 
here a girl whom some think handsome. 
Well, this worthy company shall judge." 
And Christian came from the shelter of the 
trees leading Osra by the hand, and he set 
her opposite to Lotta, where all could see 
her. And all looked and beheld her with 
amazement. But none spoke. So they 
rested for a long while, Christian smiling 
and Osra's eyes being set on Lotta, while 
Otho did nothing but gaze at Osra. 

Presently a low murmur began to run 
along the table. " Who is she?" asked 
some one, but none could answer. " Who 
is she ?" called an old man to Christian, but 
he answered, " What's that to you ? Is she 
not fairer?" And when the others asked 
whence she came, he made the same answer. 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman. 1 1 1 

But one young fellow leant from his place 
and plucked Christian's sleeve, saying, " Is 
she promised to you ? " and at this Chris- 
tian frowned, answering, " At least she is 
not for you," while Osra, overhearing, 
blushed mightily. Then Otho, still saying 
nothing, suddenly lugged out a great purse 
of money, and flung it violently into the 
middle of the table with a curse, and Chris- 
tian with a mocking lift of his hat, came for- 
ward, and, taking it, tossed it up and down 
in his hand, crying, " Is it fair weight, neigh- 
bour Otho?" Otho did not heed him, but 
turned suddenly to Lotta and put his arm 
round her waist, saying : 

" Aye, it is true. The devil must have 
sent her, but it is true. Yet you are pretty 
too, my lass." For Lotta, after looking at 
all the company and at Osra, had been so 
sorely wounded in her pride and robbed of 
her triumph, that, poor child, she had begun 
to weep, hiding her face in her hands, and 
Otho was trying to comfort her, though, 
lover as he was, he could not for the life of 
him declare that she was more beautiful than 
the girl whom Christian had brought. And 
they all moved from their places and came 
to stand round Osra. But she, after a mo- 
ment, caught from Christian the bag that he 

ii2 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

tossed so exultantly, crying to him : " I'll 
be your debtor for it ;" and bursting through 
the ring, she ran round the table and came 
to Lotta, and, pulling the girl's hands down 
from her face, she thrust the bag into her 
hands, and began to talk to her, whispering 
low, and looking into her frightened eyes 
with shining eyes. 

" Ah, my dear," said Osra, " see, he still 
loves you, dear. Ah, why did I come ? But 
I am going away, yes, now, and I shall never 
come here again. I do harm wherever I go ! 
Yes, but you'll be the prettiest girl in the 
village always ! Otho, Otho, kiss her, Otho ! 
Tell her that you love her, Otho. Don't 
stand there dumb. Oh, how stupid men 
are ! Don't you see what she wants ? Yes, 
do it again. I never saw anybody so pretty, 
Otho. Yes, yes, dear, keep the bag. It's 
from me ; you must keep it, and buy pretty 
clothes and be prettier than ever, for Otho's 
sake, because he loves you." 

By the time the Princess Osra had ended 
her consolations, behold she was very nearly 
crying herself ! But Lotta put her arms 
round the Princess's neck and kissed her, 
because she said that Otho still loved her ; 
and in her gratitude for this, she forgot 
thanks for the bag of crowns, or even to 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman* 113 

wonder who this girl was that could give 
away a thousand crowns. But in this the 
rest of the company were not like her, and 
an eager murmuring marked the excitement 
with which they watched the scene ; and 
they cried to Christian : 

" Look after your crowns ; " and thought 
him mad when he shook his head jauntily, 
answering : 

" Let Otho do what he will with them." 

Then, their interest growing more and 
more intense, they crowded round the 
Princess, scanning her very closely ; and she 
was in great fear that she would be known, 
and also in some embarrassment from the 
ardent glances and free comments of the 
simple countrymen, who were accustomed 
to say what they thought with more plain- 
ness than were the gentlemen of the Court. 
So that at length, fairly alarmed, she gave 
Lotta a last hasty kiss, and made her way 
to Christian, crying: " Take me away." 

" Aye, madame," said he, and he put her 
arm in his and turned away. But all the 
company followed him, staring and gossip- 
ing and crowding, so that Lotta and Otho 
were left alone at the feast which Otho had 
provided, with nothing to console them but 
one another's love and the happily recovered 

ii4 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

thousand crowns. And the crowd pressed 
hard on Osra and Christian, being full of 
eagerness to see where the girl went and 
what became of her. Thus they reached 
the top of the hill and came in sight of 
Christian's cottage. But now Christian sud- 
denly loosed Osra's arm and, turning round, 
faced the throng of inquisitive folk ; with 
either hand he drew a silver-mounted pistol 
from his belt ; and when he had cocked 
the pair, he pointed them at his friends and 
neighbours, saying in a quiet and pleasant 
voice : " I shall count to twenty. Any one 
who means to be within range when I come 
to twenty had best now order his coffin." 

At this a great grumbling arose among 
them ; yet they knew Christian, and did 
not wait till he had counted, but one and 
all turned tail and ran down the hill much 
quicker than they had come up. But one 
or two fellows, resentful and malicious be- 
cause of their disappointment, as soon as 
they found themselves out of range, turned 
round and shouted : 

" Aye, he is ready with his pistol, is 
Christian. We know him. Highwayman! 
Whom did you last rob ? " And Christian 
went red as the frock that Osra wore. But 
she turned questioning eyes on him. 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman* 115 

"Yes," said he sullenly. "They say 
highwayman ; it is true. I am a robber. 
That is why I said, madame, that I could 
not live without my horse." 

"Come," said Osra, "let us go to the 

So they returned together to the cottage, 
saying nothing. There Osra put on her 
own clothes again, and having bidden fare- 
well to the old woman who asked no 
questions of her, mounted her horse. Then 
Christian said : 

"Shall I ride with you, madame?" 

She bowed her head in assent. 

Till they entered the forest the Princess 
did not speak. But then she sighed, 
saying : 

" I am sorry that I went with you. For 
if you had lost your horse maybe you 
would have ceased from your way of life. 
It is better to lose a horse than to be 

" Madame," said he, " you speak pru- 
dently. Yet I had rather be hanged than 
lose him." 

" I am in your debt a thousand crowns," 
said she, and, stopping her horse, she wrote 
for him an order for a thousand crowns, and 
she signed it with her own name, Osra, and 

n6 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

gave it to him. He received it bowing very 

" You knew me all the time ? " she asked. 

" Yes, madame," said he. They had now 
come to where he had first met her. 

" Why do you live by robbery?" she 

" For the love of the same thing that 
made you come with me to-day, madame." 

" But could you not find what you love 
in the King's service ? " 

" I do not like service, madame," said 
Christian. " I love to be free." 

She paused for a moment, and then said 
in a lower tone : 

" Could you not endure my service, sir ? " 

"In that I shall now live and die, 
madame," said he, and she felt his eyes 
upon her. 

Again in silence they rode on ; it was 
evening now, and had grown dark, and 
presently the [lantern in the tower of the 
keep of Zenda became visible. Then Osra 
drew rein. 

" For my sake," said she, " rob no more." 

" What you command, madame, is my 
law. And here is your ring." 

" Keep the ring," she said. " But when 
I can serve you, you shall send it back 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman, 117 

to me, and ask what you will in return for 

" There is nothing," said he, very low, 
and looking away from her, " that I would 
take in exchange for it." 

" A foolish man or only a foolish speech ? " 
she asked as lightly as she could, with one 
fleeting glance at his face. 

" A foolish man, madame, it may be, but 
a true speech," and he bent bareheaded in 
his saddle and raised her hand to his lips. 
And, still bareheaded, he turned away and 
rode back at a canter into the forest. But 
the Princess Osra rode on to the Castle, won- 
dering greatly at what she had done that day. 

Yet she could not be very sorry that she 
had saved his horse for him, and she trusted 
that Otho and Lotta would be happy, and 
she thought that one man was, after all, as 
good flesh and blood as another, and then 
that she was a Princess and he a robber, 
and that his eyes had been over bold. ^ Yet 
there was deference in them also. 

" It is a great pity that he should be a 
robber," sighed the Princess, as she reached 
the Castle. 

The Princess Osra's carriage was within 
two miles of Strelsau when she put her head 

n8 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

out of the window and asked the officer who 
rode by the wheel why such a throng of 
people hastened to the city. 

"It is nothing, madame," answered he, 
saluting. " It is only that two rogues are 
to be hanged to-day." 

" What pleasure is there in seeing men 
hanged ? " asked Osra scornfully. " I wish 
I had not come to-day." And she drew her 
head back in disgust. Then she called : 
" Go slowly, and do not let me get into the 
middle of the wild beasts who go to gloat 
over men being hanged." 

So the horses were checked to a walk, and 
thus the carriage proceeded slowly towards 
Strelsau.. But presently the Princess put 
her head out of the window again and 
asked : 

" Who are to be hanged to-day, sir?" 

" The noted highwayman, Sigismund 
Kohl, madame," said the officer. " He 
robbed the Archbishop's coach in the forest 
of Zenda ; but they pursued him over the 
frontier and tracked him to the cottage of 
the other rogue, who had a part in many 
previous robberies, though not in this. The 
second fellow hid Kohl, and tried to put off 
the officers, but they caught them both, and 
both are to be hanged." 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman* 119 

" It seems hard," said Osra, " to hang the 
one who only sheltered his friend. He could 
do no less." 

" Nay, madame, he richly deserves it. 
Besides his previous robberies, he is gravely 
suspected of a most foul murder. For a few 
weeks ago he was in company with a girl, 
and she seemed to have money and to spare, 
and was mighty pretty too, they say. Now 
he can give no account of what has become 
of her ; but they have found all the clothes 
she wore hidden away in his house, and he 
says his mother bought the clothes. But 
they are a girl's clothes, not an old woman's. 
It looks black ; but luckily the other matter 
is enough to hang him on. His mother's 
clothes, in faith ! Would an old woman, 
who died three weeks ago, have bought a 
new red frock and smart red stockings for 
herself ? " 

" A red frock ? Red stockings ? And 
the mother is dead ? Dead of what ?" 

" Of a chill, madame, such as carries old 
people off suddenly. Yes, it looks black, and 
so the people think, for when the pair were 
brought into the city, though the rascals 
cheered Kohl who had only robbed the 
Archbishop, they pelted and came near to 
killing Christian Hantz." 

120 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

The Princess's face went pale, and she 
sank back, murmuring " Christian Hantz!" 
But in another moment she cried : 

" At what hour is the hanging ? " 

" At noon, madame ; that is, half an hour 
from now." 

Then the Princess cried in a loud urgent 
tone : 

"Faster, faster! Drive at top speed!" 
The officers looked at her in wonder ; but 
she cried : " A hundred crowns to the 
coachman if he brings me to the place before 
noon ! Quick, quick !" For she was all on 
fire at the thought that Christian Hantz 
was to be hanged, not for any new robbery 
but because he had sheltered his friend. 
And she knew how the red skirt and the 
red stockings came in his house ; her 
breath caught in her throat, as she thought 
how he had suffered stoning and execration 
rather than betray her secret. And she 
cried out to herself as she was carried along, 
" But the ring ! Why did he not send the 

By now they were at the gates of the city, 
and now within them. The officer and the 
two men who were with him rode forward 
to clear the road for the Princess. Thus 
they made their way on, until they came to 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman. 121 

the street which leads from the West Gate 
to the Cathedral, and could see the gibbet 
that had been raised before the prison, 
between the Cathedral and the Palace. But 
here the whole street was blocked with 
people, and the officer could not get the 
carriage through, for the folk were thick 
as swarming bees all across the roadway, 
and even if they would have moved, they 
could not ; so the carriage came to a dead 
stand, while the officer said to Princess 

" Madame, it is useless, we cannot get 
through them." Osra sprang from the car- 
riage, and she said : 

" You have two men with you, sir. For 
God's sake, gentlemen, bring me through 
to the foot of the scaffold. I care not if it 
costs me my life." 

" Nor we, madame, though it costs us 
ours, since it is your pleasure," they said, as 
every man in the city would have said for 
the Princess Osra. And the two men went 
ahead, while Osra followed with the officer ; 
and pushing and struggling, and dodging in 
and out, aye, and when need was, hitting, 
and buffeting, and kicking, the three took 
her through into the square of the Cathedral. 
And the clock in the great tower struck noon. 

122 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

As the bell boomed a cry went up from 
the thronged square ; the body of a man 
shot from the scaffold to the top of the 
gibbet and hung there. The people cried 
aloud, some cheering, some also groaning 
and weeping. 

" Who is it, who is it ?" asked the Princess. 

" It is Sigismund Kohl, madame," said 
the officer. 

" Then on, on, on ! " she commanded, 
and again they struggled forward. Now a 
louder and fiercer cry rang out as a man was 
brought forward on the scaffold, in his shirt 
and breeches. A priest was with him, 
holding a crucifix before his eyes. King 
Rudolf, who sat at a window of his palace, 
asked why they delayed to string the 
rascal up ; and one of his gentlemen an- 
swered : 

" Sire, the priest begged a few minutes' 
delay. For the obstinate rogue will not 
confess to the murder of the girl, and 
therefore cannot receive absolution, and the 
priest is loth to have him hanged without 

" He shall be hanged without it, unless 
his conscience act quickly," said the King. 
But a moment later, he asked : 

" What is the tumult in the corner of the 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman* 123 

square ? There is a fight there. Let it be 
seen to." 

Indeed there was a fight ; for the three 
with Osra were bent on getting through, 
and the crowd would not let them through ; 
and they struck at the crowd, and the 
crowd at them. But suddenly some one, 
peering past the Guards, exclaimed : " The 
Princess Osra, the Princess ! " Then the 
blows ceased, and the crowd began slowly 
to give back, making way for Osra. And 
she walked between walls of people, yet did 
not seem to see or to take heed of any of 
them ; her eyes were glued to the man on 
the scaffold. For even now the priest, who 
had held the crucifix, turned sorrowfully 
away, and signed with his hand to the 

Again the people shouted fiercely for 
Christian's death ; and he, stepping forward, 
gave himself into the executioner's hands. 
Those who were near him saw that there 
was a smile on his lips, and, as the hangman 
took hold of him, he kissed a little packet 
which he held in his right hand. But the 
people shrieked loudly: " Murderer, mur- 
derer ! Where is the girl ? " At this, stung 
beyond endurance, Christian cried, so loudly 
that his voice rose above the clamour : 

124 The Heart of Princess Osra 

" I am no murderer, I did not touch a hair 
of her head." 

" Then where is she, where is she ?" they 

" I do not know," said he ; and he added 
in a low tone, kissing his little packet again : 
" Wherever she is, God in his graciousness 
send her joy." And he turned to the exe- 
cutioner, saying, " Get on, man." But then 
he looked as it were for the last time on the 
living sea of faces round him, and suddenly, 
out of all of them, he saw one. 

What Christian saw the King saw also, 
and he rose from his chair with an oath and 
a laugh. 

" This sister of mine is a wonderful 
wench," said he. " Come, let us see why 
she will not have this rascal hanged. Run, 
some one, and tell them not to string him 
up till I give the word." 

The King walked out of the palace and 
came into the square, the Guard parting the 
people before him ; and Osra, seeing him 
coming, stood now quite still, blushing and 
smiling, although she was very ashamed and 
panted sorely. 

Then the King came and faced her, say- 
ing nothing, but lifting his eyebrows and 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman* 125 

smiling whimsically ; but at last he whis- 
pered : 

" What, was there a man in the forest, 
Osra ? " 

And she answered : " Do not ask me 
that, sire, but ask Christian Hantz what is 
in the packet which he kissed as the hang- 
man took hold of him." 

" He is not only a robber, but a murderer 
also, though he will not own to it." 

" No, he is no murderer," said she. 
" Look in the packet." 

" Then come and look with me," said the 
King, and taking her hand he led her up 
on to the scaffold in the sight of all the 
people, who wondered and laughed ; for 
they always laughed at the ways of the 
Princess Osra. But she flew straight across 
to Christian, who fell on one knee with the 
rope round his neck. 

"Give me the packet," she cried, and she 
tore it open. And in it she found her 
order for a thousand crowns and the gem 
engraved with the Royal Arms. For an 
instant she looked at Christian, and then 
she said : 

"You have not got money for the order ? 
Yet my name is good for a thousand 

126 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

" To me, madame, it was better than fifty 

" But," she broke out eagerly ; " you 
should have sent the ring. I could have 
saved you." 

" But you would have kept it in return 
for the service, madame." 

"Aye, sir, that was the bargain," said 
Osra, with a little low laugh. 

" I knew it. And I preferred to die with 
it rather than live without it." 

"Another foolish speech !" 

"Yes, for the man is foolish, madame." 

" And they cry to you, ' Where is the 
girl?' And you do not answer, but die 
under a foul charge ! " 

To this Christian Hantz made no answer 
at all, unless it were one to murmur mourn- 
fully : 

" And, madame, they have taken from me 
the red skirt and " 

The Princess Osra suddenly turned from 
him, and went to the King, who had stood 
regarding her ; and she knelt down before 
him, saying : 

" Sire and dear brother, pardon this man. 
He did but shelter his friend, and he will 
rob no more." 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman* 127 

" I might forgive him his robberies, if he 
would take service in my army." 

" Yes, in my regiment of Guards ! " she 

" But how shall I forgive that foul mur- 
der, of which he is certainly guilty ? For 
where, sister, is the pretty girl, of whom no 
traces can be found saving her dress, her 
red skirt, and ? " 

"Sire, these things I pray you, sire, let 
your gentlemen stand back a little." 

" Stand back, then, gentlemen," said the 

" These things, sire, were, by a strange 
chance, in the little parcel that the poor 
man kissed. Though why he kissed it, I 
do not know." 

The King took Osra's order for a thou- 
sand crowns, and also the gem engraved 
with the Royal Arms ; he looked at them 
and at his sister. 

" Therefore, sire," said she, " I ask life 
and pardon for the most courteous gentle- 
man in your dominions. Ft>r he prized mj 
ring above his life and my secret above his 
honour. Sire, such men should live and 
not die." 

The King turned to his officers, and said : 

" Gentlemen, the Princess knows that 

128 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

the girl is alive and well and has no com- 
plaint against this man. For he might not 
in honour tell who or where she was. And, 
for the rest, he did but shelter his friend, 
and my sister is surety that he will rob no 
more. May he live ?" 

When they heard this, they all declared 
that Christian should live, and they went 
into the crowd and told the people that the 
girl was found. Then the people suddenly 
veered round and began to cheer Christian, 
and some cried, " Who is the girl ? " and 
laughed merrily, conceiving that it was a 
love affair on which Christian had been 
engaged ; and because he preferred to die 
under an imputation of murder rather than 
endanger his love's reputation, he became a 
hero with them ; and when they heard he 
was not to die, they dispersed in the utmost 
good temper, cheering him and the King, 
and above all the Princess Osra, whom 
they loved. 

But she went again to Christian, and bade 
the hangman take the rope off his neck. 

"Will you serve in my regiment of 
Guards, sir?" she asked. "Or is service 
still irksome to you ? " 

" I will serve you. madame," said Chris- 

The Courtesy of Christian the Highwayman* 129 

" And since you will need equipment, get 
money for this order," and she gave him 
again the order. 

" I must needs obey you, madame, though 

" It is well, sir. I trust you will serve me 
faithfully. I bid you farewell, sir," and she 
bowed slightly, and turned as if to leave 
him. And he said nothing, but stood look- 
ing at her, so that presently she blushed, 
saying : 

" They will let you have those things now, 

Christian bowed very low, and, raising 
himself again, looked at her ring. 

" Nay, I cannot do that," said Princess 
Osra. " But you will see it now and then, 
and, now and then, maybe, you can touch 
it." And she put the ring on her finger and 
held out her hand to him. He knelt and 
kissed the ring and then her hand ; but he 
looked very glum. And the Princess 
laughed openly at him, her eyes dancing in 
delight and amusement. But he still looked 
more as though he were going to be hanged 
than he had any time before in the day. 
So that the King, pointing at him, said to 
Osra : 

" An ungrateful dog ! Upon my soul he 

J3 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

looks as though he were sorry not to be 
hanged ! Do you call that courtesy ? " 

But the Princess laughed softly and rub- 
bed the ring on her finger, as she answered : 

" Aye, sire, I call that the best of cour- 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein* 

IN the days of Rudolf III. there stood on 
the hill opposite the Castle of Zenda, and 
on the other side of the valley in which the 
town lies, on the site where the chdteau of 
Tarlenheim now is situated, a fine and 
strong castle belonging to Count Nikolas 
of Festenburg. He was a noble of very 
old and high family, and had great estates ; 
his house being, indeed, second only to the 
Royal House in rank and reputation. He 
himself was a young man of great accom- 
plishments, of a domineering temper, and 
of much ambition ; and he had gained dis- 
tinction in the wars that marked the closing 
years of the reign of King Henry the Lion. 
With King Rudolf he was not on terms of 
cordial friendship, for he despised the King's 
easy manners and carelessness of dignity,, 
while the King had no love for a gentleman 
whose one object seemed to be to surpass 
and outshine him in the eyes of his people, 

132 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

and who never rested from extending and 
fortifying his castle until it threatened to 
surpass Zenda itself both in strength and 
magnificence. Moreover Nikolas, although 
maintaining a state ample and suitable to 
his rank, was yet careful and prudent, 
while Rudolf spent all that he received and 
more besides, so that the Count grew 
richer and the King poorer. But in spite 
of these causes of difference, the Count was 
received at Court with apparent gracious- 
ness, and no open outburst of enmity had 
yet occurred, the pair being, on the contrary, 
often together, and sharing their sports and 
pastimes with one another. 

Now most of these diversions were harm- 
less, or, indeed, becoming and proper, but 
there was one among' them full of danger to 
a man of hot head and ungoverned impulse 
such as King Rudolf was. And this one 
was diceing, in which the King took great 
delight, and in which the Count Nikolas was 
very ready to encourage him. The King, 
who was generous and hated to win from 
poor men or those who might be playing 
beyond their means in order to give him 
pleasure, was delighted to find an opponent 
whose purse was as long or longer than his 
own, and thus gradually came to pass many 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modensteiru 133 

evenings with the boxes in Nikolas's com- 
pany. And the more evenings he passed 
the deeper he fell into the Count's debt ; for 
the King drank wine, while the Count was 
content with small beer, and when the 
King was losing he doubled his stakes, 
whereas the Count took in sail if the wind 
seemed adverse. Thus always and steadily 
the debt grew, till at last Rudolf dared not 
reckon how large it had become, nor did he 
dare to disclose it to his advisers. For 
there were great public burdens already im- 
posed by reason of King Henry's wars, 
and the citizens of Strelsau were ncft in a 
mood to bear fresh exaction, nor to give their 
hard earnings for the payment of the King's 
gambling debts ; in fine, although they 
loved the Elphbergs well enough, they 
loved their money more. Thus the King 
had no resource except in his private pos- 
sessions, and these were of no great value, 
saving the Castle and estate of Zenda. 

At length, when they had sat late one 
night and the throws had gone all the 
evening against the King and for Nikolas, 
the King flung himself back in his chair, 
drained his glass, and said impatiently : 

" I am weary of the game ! Come, my 
lord, let us end it." 

134 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

" I would not urge you, sire, a moment 
beyond what you desire. I play but for 
your pleasure." 

" Then my pleasure has been your profit," 
said the King with a vexed laugh, " for 
I believe I am stripped of my last crown. 
What is my debt?" 

The Count, who had the whole sum 
reckoned on his tablets, took them out, 
and shewed the King the amount of the 

" I cannot pay it," said Rudolf. " I would 
play you again, to double the debt or wipe 
it out* but I have nothing of value enough 
to stake." 

The desire which had been nursed for 
long in the Count's heart now saw the 
moment of its possible realisation. 

He leant over the table, and, smoothing 
his beard with his hand, said gently : 

" The amount is no more than half the 
value of your Majesty's Castle and demesne 
of Zenda." 

The King started and forced a laugh. 

" Aye, Zenda spoils the prospect from 
Festenburg, does it?" said he. "But I 
will not risk Zenda. An Elphberg with- 
out Zenda would seem like a man robbed 
of his wife. We have had it since we have 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein. 135 

had anything or been anything. I should 
not seem King without it." 

" As you will, sire. Then the debt 
stands?" He looked full and keenly into 
the King's eyes, asking without words, 
" How will you pay it ? " and adding with- 
out words, " Paid it must be." And the 
King read the unspoken words in the eyes 
of Count Nikolas. 

The King took up his glass, but finding 
it empty flung it angrily on the floor, where 
it shivered into fragments at Count Nikolas's 
feet ; and he shifted in his chair and cursed 
softly under his breath. Nikolas sat with 
the dice-box in his hand and a smile on his 
lips ; for he knew that the King could not 
pay, and therefore must play, and he was 
in the vein, and did not doubt of winning 
from the King Zenda and its demesne. 
Then he would be the greatest lord in the 
kingdom, and hold for his own a kingdom 
within the kingdom, and the two strongest 
places in all the land. And a greater 
prize might then dangle in reach of his 

' The devil spurs and I gallop," said the 
King at last. And he took up the dice-box 
and rattled it. 

" Fortune will smile on you this time, sire, 

136 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

and I shall not grieve at it," said Count 
Nikolas with a courteous smile. 

"Curses on her!" cried the King. 
" Come, my lord, a quick ending to it ! One 
throw, and I am a free man, or you are 
master of my castle." 

" One throw let it be, sire, for it grows 
late," assented Nikolas with a careless air ; 
and they both raised the boxes and rattled 
the dice inside them. The King threw ; 
his throw was a six and a five, and a sudden 
gleam of hope lit up his eyes ; he leant 
forward in his chair, gripping the elbows of 
it with his hands ; his cheeks flushed and 
his breath came quickly. With a bow 
Count Nikolas raised his hand and threw. 
The dice fell and rolled on the table. The 
King sank back ; and the Count said with 
a smile of apology and a shrug of his 
shoulders : 

" Indeed I am ashamed. For I cannot 
be denied to-night." 

For Count Nikolas of Festenburg had 
thrown sixes,t and thereby won from the 
King the Castle and demesne of Zenda. 

He rose from his chair, and, having 
buckled on his sword that had lain on the 
table by him, and taking his hat in his hand, 
stood looking down on the King with a 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein. 137 

malicious smile on his face. And he said 
with a look that had more mockery than 
respect in it : 

" Have I your Majesty's leave to with- 
draw ? For ere day dawn, I have matters 
to transact in Strelsau, and I would be at 
my Castle of Zenda to-night." 

Then King Rudolf took a sheet of paper 
and wrote an order that the Castle, and all 
that was in it, and all the demesne should 
be surrendered to Count Nikolas of Festen- 
burg on his demand, and he gave the paper 
to Nikolas. Then he rose up and held out 
his hand, which Nikolas kissed, smiling 
covertly, and the King said with grace and 
dignity : 

" Cousin, my Castle has found a more 
worthy master. God give you joy of it." 

And he motioned with his hand to be left 
alone. Then, when the Count had gone, 
he sat down in his chair again, and remained 
there till it was full day, neither moving nor 
yet sleeping. There he was found by his 
gentlemen when they came to dress him, 
but none asked him what had passed. 

Count Nikolas, now Lord of Zenda, did 
not so waste time, and the matters that he 
had spoken of did not keep him long in 
Strelsau ; but in the early morning he rode 

J % o 

138 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

out, the paper which the King had written 
in his belt. 

First he rode with all speed to his own 
house of Festenburg, and there he gathered 
together all his followers, servants, foresters, 
and armed retainers, and he told them that 
they were to ride with him to Zenda, for 
that Zenda was now his and not the King's. 
At this they were greatly astonished, but 
they ate the fine dinner and drank the wine 
which he provided, and in the evening they 
rode down the hill very merry, and trotted, 
nearly a hundred strong, through the town, 
making a great noise, so that they disturbed 
the Bishop of Modenstein, who was lying 
that night at the inn in the course of a 
journey from his See to the Capital ; but 
nobody could tell the Bishop why they rode 
to Zenda, and presently the Bishop, being 
wearied with travelling, went to his bed. 

Now King Rudolf, in his chagrin and 
dismay, had himself forgotten, or had at 
least neglected to warn the Count of Fes- 
tenburg, that his sister Princess Osra was 
residing at the Castle of Zenda ; for it was 
her favourite resort, and she often retired 
from the Court and spent many days there 
alone. There she was now with two of her 
ladies, a small retinue of servants, and no 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein* 139 

more than half a dozen Guards ; and when 
Count Nikolas came to the gate, it being 
then after nine, she had gone to her own 
chamber, and sat before the mirror, dressed 
in a loose white gown, with her ruddy hair 
unbound and floating over her shoulders. 
She was reading an old story book, contain- 
ing tales of Helen of Troy, of Cleopatra, 
of Berenice, and other lovely ladies, very 
elegantly related and embellished with fine 
pictures. And the Princess, being very 
much absorbed in the stories, did not hear 
nor notice the arrival of the Count's com- 
pany, but continued to read, while Nikolas 
roused the watchmen, and the bridge was 
let down, and the steward summoned. 
Then Nikolas took the steward aside, and 
shewed him the King's order, bearing the 
King's seal, and the steward, although both 
greatly astonished and greatly grieved, 
could not deny the letter or the seal, but 
declared himself ready to obey and to sur- 
render the Castle ; and the sergeant in 
command of the Guard said the same ; but, 
they added, since the Princess was in the 
Castle, they must inform her of the matter, 
and take her commands. 

" Aye, do," said Nikolas, sitting down in 
the great hall. " Tell her not to be dis- 

140 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

turbed, but to give me the honour of being 
her host for as long as she will, and say 
that I will wait on her, if it be her pleas- 


But he smiled to think of the anger and 
scorn with which Osra would receive the 
tidings when the steward delivered them to 

In this respect the event did not fall short 
of his expectations, for she was so indignant 
and aghast that, thinking of nothing but 
the tidings, she flung away the book and 
cried : " Send the Count here to me," and 
stood waiting for him there in her chamber, 
in her white gown and with her hair un- 
bound and flowing down over her shoulders. 
And when he came she cried : " What is 
this, my lord ?j" and listened to his story 
with parted lips and flashing eyes, and thus 
read the King's letter and saw the King's 
seal. And her eyes filled with tears, but 
she dashed them away with her hand. 
Then the Count said, bowing to her as 
mockingly as he had bowed to her brother : 

" It is the fortune of the dice, madame." 

" Yes, my lord, as you play the game," 
said she. 

His eyes were fixed on her, and it seemed 
to him that she was more beautiful in her 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein* 141 

white gown and with her hair unbound over 
her shoulders, than he had ever felt her to 
be before, and he eyed her closely. Sud- 
denly she looked at him, and for a moment 
he averted his eyes ; but he looked again 
and her eyes met his. For several mo- 
ments she stood rigid and motionless. Then 
she said : 

" My lord, the King has lost the Castle 
of Zenda, which is the home and cradle of 
our House. It was scarcely the King's 
alone to lose. Have I no title in it ? " 

" It was the King's, madame, and now it 
is mine," smiled Nikolas. 

" Well, then, it is yours," said she, and 
taking a step towards him, she said : " Have 
you a mind to venture it again, my lord ?" 

" I would venture it only against a great 
stake," said he, smiling still, while his eyes 
were fixed on her face and marked every 
change in the colour of her cheeks, i 

" I can play dice as well as the King," 
she cried. " Are we not all gamblers, we 
Elphbergs ? " And she laughed bitterly. 

" But what would your stake be ? " he 
asked sneeringly. 

Princess Osra's face was now very pale, 
but her voice did not tremble and she did 
not flinch ; for the honour of her House 

142 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

and of the throne was as sacred to her as 
her salvation, and more than her happiness. 

" A stake, my lord,'* said she, " that many 
gentlemen have thought above any castle 
in preciousness." 

" Of what do you speak ? " he asked, and 
his voice quivered a little, as a man's does 
in excitement. " For, pardon me, madame, 
but what have you of such value ? " 

" I have what the poorest girl has, and 
it is of the value that it pleased God to 
make it and pleases men to think it," said 
Osra. " And all of it I will stake against 
the King's Castle of Zenda and its de- 


Count Nikolas's eyes flashed and he drew 
nearer to her ; he took his dice-box from 
his pocket, and he held it up before her, 
and he whispered in an eager hoarse voice : 

" Name this great stake, madame ; what 
is it ? " 

" It is myself, my lord," said Princess 

" Yourself ? " he cried wondering, though 
he had half guessed. 

" Aye. To be the Lord of Zenda is 
much. Is it not more to be husband to the 
King's sister ? " 

"It is more," said he, "when the King's 

The Sin of the Bishop of Mocfenstein* 143 

sister is the Princess Osra." And he looked 
at her now with open admiration. But she 
did not heed his glance, but with face pale 
as death she seized a small table and drew 
it between them and cried : " Throw then, 
my lord ! We know the stakes." 

" If you win, Zenda is yours. If I win, 
you are mine." 

" Yes, I and Zenda also," said she. 
" Throw, my lord ! " 

" Shall we throw thrice, madame, or once, 
or how often ? " 

" Thrice, my lord," she answered, tossing 
back her hair behind her neck, and holding 
one hand to her side. " Throw first," she 

The Count rattled the box ; and the 
throw was seven. Osra took the box from 
him, looked keenly and defiantly in his eyes, 
and threw. 

" Fortune is with you, madame," said he, 
biting his lips. " For a five and a four make 
nine, or I err greatly." 

He took the box from her; his hand 
shook, but hers was firm and steady ; and 
again he threw. 

" Ah, it is but five," said he impatiently, 
and a frown settled on his brow. 

" It is enough, my lord," said Osra; and 

144 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

pointed to the dice that :she had thrown, a 
three and a one. 

The Count's eyes gleamed again ; he 
sprang towards her, and was about to 
seize the box. But he checked himself sud- 
denly, and bowed, saying : 

" Throw first this time, I pray you, ma- 
dame, if it be not disagreeable to you." 

" I do not care which way it is," said Osra, 
and she shook and made her third cast. 
When she lifted the box, the face of the 
dice showed seven. A smile broadened on 
the Count's lips, for he thought surely he 
could beat seven, he that had beaten eleven 
and thereby won the Castle of Zenda, which 
now he staked against the Princess Osra. 
But his eyes were very keenly and atten- 
tively on her, and he held the box poised, 
shoulder-high, in his right hand. 

Then a sudden faintness and sickness 
seized on the Princess, and the composure 
that had hitherto upheld her failed ; she 
could not meet his glance, nor could she 
bear to see the fall of the dice ; but she 
turned away her head before he threw, and 
stood thus with averted face. But he kept 
attentive eyes on her, and drew very near to 
the table so that he stood right over it. 
And the Princess Osra caught sight of her 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein, 145 

own face in the mirror, and started to see 
herself pallid and ghastly, and her features 
drawn as though she were suffering some 
great pain. Yet she uttered no sound, 

The dice rattled in the box ; they rattled 
on the table ; there was a pause while a 
man might quickly count a dozen ; and then 
Count Nikolas of Festenburg cried out in 
a voice that trembled and tripped over the 
words : 

" Eight, eight, eight !" 

But before the last of the words had left 
his shaking lips, the Princess Osra faced 
round on him like lightning. She raised 
her hand so that the loose white sleeve fell 
back from her rounded arm, and her eyes 
flashed, and her lips curled as she out- 
stretched her arm at him, and cried : 

" Foul play ! " 

For, as she watched her own pale face in 
the mirror the mirror which Count Nikolas 
had not heeded she had seen him throw, 
she had seen him stand for an instant over 
the dice he had thrown with gloomy and 
maddened face ; and then she had seen a 
slight swift movement of his left hand, as 
his fingers deftly darted down and touched 
one of the dice and turned it. And all this 
3he had seen before he had cried eight. 

146 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

Therefore now she turned on him, and cried, 
" Foul play ! " and before he could speak, 
she darted by him towards the door. But 
he sprang forward, and caught her by the 
arm above the wrist and gripped her, and 
his fingers bit into the flesh of her arm, as 
he gasped, " You lie ! Where are you 
going?" But her voice rang out clear and 
loud in answer : 

" I am going to tell all the world that 
Zenda is ours again, and I am going to 
publish in every city in the kingdom that 
Count Nikolas of Festenburg is a common 
cheat and rogue, and should be whipped at 
the cart's tail through the streets of Strelsau. 
For I saw you in the mirror, my lord, I saw 
you in the mirror ! " And she ended with 
a wild laugh that echoed through the room. 

Still he gripped her arm, and she did not 
flinch; for, an instant he looked full in her 
eyes ; covetousness, and desire, and shame, 
came all together upon him, and over-mas- 
tered him, and he hissed between set teeth : 

" You shan't ! By God, you shan't ! " 

" Aye, but I will, my lord," said Osra. 
" It is a fine tale for the King and for your 
friends in Strelsau." 

An instant longer he held her where she 
was ; and he gasped and licked his lips. 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein. 147 

Then he suddenly dragged her with him 
towards a couch ; seizing up a coverlet that 
lay on the couch he flung it around her, and 
he folded it tight about her, and he drew it 
close over her face. She could not cry out 
nor move. He lifted her up and swung 
her over his shoulder, and, opening the door 
of the room, dashed down the stairs towards 
the great hall. 

In the great hall were six of the King's 
Guard, and some of the servants of the Cas- 
tle, and many of the people who had come 
with "Count Nikolas ; they all sprang to 
their feet when they saw them. He took 
no heed of them, but rushed at a run 
through the hall, and out under the port- 
cullis and across the bridge, which had not 
been raised since he entered. There at the 
end of the bridge a lackey held his horse ; 
and he leapt on his horse, setting one hand 
on the saddle, and still holding Osra ; and 
then he cried aloud : 

" My men follow me ! To Festenburg ! " 
And all his men ran out, the King's 
Guard doing nothing to hinder them, and 
jumping on their horses and setting them 
at a gallop, hurried after the Count. He, 
riding furiously, turned towards the town 
of Zenda, and the whole company swept 

148 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

down the hill, and, reaching the town, clat- 
tered and dashed through it at full gallop, 
neither drawing rein nor turning to right 01 
left ; and again they roused the Bishop of 
Modenstein, and he turned in his bed, won- 
dering what the rush of mounted men 
meant. But they, galloping still, climbed 
the opposite hill and came to the Castle of 
Festenburg with their horses spent and 
foundered. In they all crowded, close on 
one another's heels ; the bridge was drawn 
up ; and there in the entrance they stood 
looking at one another, asking mutely what 
their master had done, and who was the 
lady whom he carried wrapped in the cover- 
let. But he ran on till he reached the 
stairs, and he climbed them, and entering a 
room in the gate-tower, looking over the 
moat, he laid the Princess Osra on a couch, 
and standing over her he smote one hand 
upon the other, and he swore loudly : 

" Now, as God lives, Zenda I will have > 
and her I will have, and it shall be her 
husband whom she must, if she will, pro- 
claim a cheat in Strelsau ! " 

Then he bent down and lifted the cover- 
let from her face. But she did not stir nor 
speak, nor open her eyes. For she had 
fallen into a swoon as they rode, and did 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein* 149 

not know what had befallen her, nor where 
she had been brought, nor that she was now 
in the Castle of Festenburg, and in the 
power of a desperate man. .Thus she lay 
still and white, while Count Nikolas stood 
over her and bit his nails in rage. And it 
was then just on midnight. 

On being disturbed for the third time, the 
Bishop of Modenstein, whose temper was 
hot and cost him continual prayers and 
penances from the mastery it strove to win 
over him, was very impatient ; and since he 
was at once angry and half asleep, it was 
long before he could or would understand 
the monstrous news with which his terrified 
host came trembling and quaking to his 
bedside in the dead of the night. A ser- 
vant-girl, stammered the frightened fellow, 
had run down half dressed and panting from 
the Castle of Zenda, and declared that 
whether they chose to believe her or not 
and, indeed, she could hardly believe such 
a thing herself, although she had seen it 
with her own eyes from her own window 
yet Count Nikolas of Festenburg had 
come to the Castle that evening, had spoken 
with Princess Osra, and now (they might 
call her a liar if they chose) had carried off 
the Princess with him on his horse to Fes- 

150 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

tenburg; alive or dead none knew, and the 
men-servants were amazed and terrified, 
and the soldiers were at their wits' end, 
talking big and threatening to bring ten 
thousand men from Strelsau and to leave 
not one stone upon another at Festenburg, 
and what not. But all the while and for 
all their big talk nothing was done ; and 
the Princess was at Festenburg, alive or 
dead or in what strait none knew. And, 
finally, nobody but one poor servant-girl 
had had the wit to run down and rouse the 

The Bishop of Modenstein sat up in his 
bed and he fairly roared at the innkeeper : 

" Are there no men, then, who can fight 
in the town, fool ?" 

" None, none, my lord not against the 
Count. Count Nikolas is a terrible man. 
Please God, he has not killed the Princess 
by now." 

" Saddle my horse," said the Bishop, " and 
be quick with it." 

And he leapt out of bed with sparkling 
eyes. For the Bishop was a young man, 
but a little turned of thirty, and he was a 
noble of the old House of Hentzau. Now 
some of the Hentzaus (of whom history 
tells us of many) have been good, and some 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein* 151 

have been bad ; and the good fear God, 
while the bad do not ; but neither the good 
nor the bad fear anything in the world be- 
sides. Hence, for good or ill, they do great 
deeds and risk their lives as another man 
risks a pemny. So the Bishop, leaving his 
bed, dressed himself in breeches and boots, 
and set a black hat with a violet feather on 
his head, and, staying to put on nothing else 
but his shirt and his cloak over it, in ten 
minutes was on his horse at the door of the 
inn. For a moment he looked at a strag- 
gling crowd that had gathered there ; then 
with a toss of his head and a curl of his lip 
he told them what he thought of them, 
saying openly that he thanked heaven they 
were not of his diocese, and in an instant 
he was galloping through the streets of the 
town towards the Castle of Festenburg, 
with his sword by his side and a brace of 
pistols in the holsters of the saddle. Thus 
he left the gossipers and vapourers behind, 
and rode alone as he was up the hill, his 
blood leaping and his heart beating quick ; 
for, as he went, he said to himself : 

" It is not often a Churchman has a 
chance like this." 

On the stroke of half-past twelve he came 
to the bridge of the Castle moat, and the 

152 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

bridge was up. But the Bishop shouted, and 
the watchman came out and stood in the 

fateway across the moat, and, the night being 
ne and clear, he presented an excellent aim. 

" My pistol is straight at your head," 
cried the Bishop, " let down the bridge. I 
am Frederick of Hentzau ; that is, I am the 
Bishop of Modenstein, and I charge you, if 
you are a dutiful son of the Church, to 
obey me. The pistol is full- at your head/' 

The watchman knew the Bishop, but he 
also knew the Count his master. 

" I dare not let down the bridge without 
an order from my lord," he faltered. 

" Then before you can turn round, you're 
a dead man," said the Bishop. 

"Will you hold me harmless with my 
lord, if I let it down ? " 

" Aye, he shall not hurt you. But if you 
do not immediately let it down, I'll shoot 
you first and refuse you Christian burial af- 
terwards. Come, down with it." 

So the watchman, fearing that, if he re- 
fused, the Bishop would spare neither body 
nor soul, but would destroy the one and 
damn the other, let down the bridge, and the 
Bishop, leaping from his horse, ran across 
with his drawn sword in one hand and a pistol 
in the other. Walking into the hall, he 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein. 153 

found a great company of Count Nikolas's 
men, drinking with one another, but talking 
uneasily and seeming alarmed. And the 
Bishop raised the hand that held the sword 
above his head in the attitude of benedic- 
tion, saying, " Peace be with you ! " 

Most of them knew him by his face, and 
all knew him as soon as a comrade whis- 
pered his name, and they sprang to their 
feet, uncovering their heads and bowing. 
And he said : 

" Where is your master the Count ?" 

" The Count is upstairs, my lord," they 
answered. " You cannot see him now." 

" Nay, but I will see him," said the Bishop. 

" We are ordered to let none pass," said 
they, and although their manner was full of 
respect, they spread themselves across the 
hall, and thus barred the way to the stair- 
case that rose in the corner of the hall. 
But the Bishop faced them in great anger, 
crying : 

" Do you think I do not know what has 
been done ? Are you all, then, parties in 
this treachery? Do you all want to swing 
from the turrets of the Castle when the 
King comes with a thousand men from 

At this they looked at him and at one 

154 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

another with great uneasiness ; for they knew 
that the King had no mercy when he was 
roused, and that he loved his sister above 
everybody in the world. And the Bishop 
stepped up close to their rank. Then one 
of them drew his sword half-way from its 
scabbard. But the Bishop, perceiving this, 
cried : 

" Do you all do violence to a lady, and 
dare to lay hands on the King's sister? 
Aye, and here is a fellow that would strike 
a Bishop of God's Church ! " And he caught 
the fellow a buffet with the flat of his sword, 
that knocked him down, " Let me pass, you 
rogues," said the Bishop. " Do you think 
you can stop a Hentzau ?" 

" Let us go and tell the Count that my 
lord the Bishop is here," cried the house- 
steward, thinking that he had found a way 
out of the difficulty ; for they dared neither 
to touch the Bishop nor yet to let him 
through ; and the steward turned to run 
towards the staircase. But the Bishop 
sprang after him, quick as an arrow, and, 
dropping the pistol from his left hand, 
caught him by the shoulder and hurled him 
back. " I want no announcing," he said. 
"The Church is free to enter everywhere." 
And he burst through them at the point of 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein. 155 

the sword, reckless now what might befall 
him so that he made his way through. But 
they did not venture to cut him down ; for 
they knew that nothing but death would 
stop him, and for their very souls' sake they 
dared not kill him. So he, kicking one and 
pushing another and laying about him with 
the flat of his sword and with his free hand, 
and reminding them all the while of their 
duty to the Church and of his sacred char- 
acter, at last made his way through and 
stood alone, unhurt, at the foot of the stair- 
case, while they cowered by the walls or 
looked at him in stupid helplessness and 
bewilderment. And the Bishop swiftly 
mounted the stairs. 

At this instant in the room in the gate- 
tower of the Castle overlooking the moat 
there had fallen a moment of dead silence. 
Here Count Nikolas had raised the Princess, 
set her on a couch, and waited till her faint- 
ness and fright were gone. Then he had 
come near to her, and in brief harsh tones 
told her his mind. For him, indeed, the 
dice were now cast ; in his fury and fear he 
had dared all. He was calm now, with the 
calmness of a man at a great turn of fate. 
That room, he told her, she should never 
leave alive, save as his promised wife, sworn 

156 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

and held to secrecy and silence by the force 
of that bond and of her oath. If he killed 
her he must die, whether by his own hand 
or the King's mattered little. But he would 
die for a great cause and in a great venture. 
" I shall not be called a cheating gamester, 
madame," said he, a smile on his pale face. 
" I choose death sooner than disgrace. 
Such is my choice. What is yours ? It 
stands between death and silence ; and no 
man but your husband will dare to trust 
your silence." 

" You do not dare to kill me," said she de- 

" Madame, I dare do nothing else. They 
may write 'murderer' on my tomb; they 
shall not throw 'cheat' in my living face." 

" I will not be silent," cried Osra, springing 
to her feet. " And rather than be your wife 
I would die a thousand times. For a cheat 
you are a cheat a cheat ! " Her voice 
rose, till he feared that she would be heard, 
if any one chanced to listen, even from so 
far off as the hall. Yet he made one more 
effort, seeking to move her by an appeal 
to which women are not wont to be insen- 

" A cheat, yes !" said he. " I, Nikolas of 
Festenburg, am a cheat. I say it, though no 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modensteiru 157 

other man shall while I live to hear him. 
But to gain what stake ?" 

" Why, my brother's Castle of Zenda." 

" I swear to you it was not," he cried, 
coming nearer to her. " I did not fear losing 
on the cast, but I could not endure not to 
win. Not my stake, madame, but yours 
lured me to my foul play. Have you your 
face, and yet do not know to what it drives 
men ?" 

" If I have a fair face, it should inspire 
fair deeds," said she. " Do not touch me, 
sir, do not touch me. I loathe breathing the 
same air with you, or so much as seeing your 
face. Aye, and I can die. Even the women 
of our House know how to die." 

At her scorn and contempt a great rage 
came upon him, and he gripped the hilt of 
his sword, and drew it from the scabbard. 
But she stood still, facing him with calm 
eyes. Her lips moved for a moment in 
prayer, but she did not shrink. 

" I pray you," said he in trembling speech, 
mastering himself for an instant, " I pray 
you !" But he could say no more. 

" I will cry your cheating in all Strelsau," 
said she. 

"Then commend your soul to God. For 
in one minute you shall die." 

158 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

Still she stood motionless ; and he began 
to come near to her, his sword now drawn in 
his hand. Having come within the distance 
from which he could strike her, he paused 
and gazed into her eyes. She answered him 
with a smile. Then there was for an instant 
the utter stillness in the room ; and in that 
instant the Bishop of Modenstein set his 
foot on the staircase and came running up. 
On a sudden Osra heard the step, and a 
gleam flashed in her eye. The Count heard 
it also, and his sword was arrested in its 
stroke. A smile came on his face. He was 
glad at the coming of some one whom he 
might kill in fight ; for it turned him 
sick to butcher her unresisting. Yet he 
dared not let her go, to cry his cheating in 
the streets of Strelsau. The steps came 

He dropped his sword on the floor and 
sprang upon her. A shriek rang out, but 
he pressed his hand on her mouth and seized 
her in his arms. She had no strength to 
resist, and he carried her swiftly across the 
room to a door in the wall. He pulled the 
door open it was very heavy and massive 
and he flung her down roughly on the stone 
floor of a little chamber, square and lofty, 
having but one small window high up, 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein. 159 

through which the moonlight scarcely 
pierced. She fell with a moan of pain. 
Unheeding, he turned on his heel and shut 
the door. And, as he turned, he heard a 
man throw himself against the door of the 
room. It also was strong and twice the 
man hurled himself with all his force against 
it. At last it strained and gave way ; and 
the Bishop of Modenstein burst into the 
room breathless. And he saw no trace of 
the Princess's presence, but only Count 
Nikolas standing sword in hand in front of 
the door in the wall with a sneering smile 
on his face. 

The Bishop of Modenstein never loved to 
speak afterwards of what followed, saying 
always that he rather deplored than gloried 
in it, and that when a man of sacred pro- 
fession was forced to use the weapons of 
this world it was a matter of grief to him, 
not of vaunting. But the King compelled 
him by urgent requests to describe the 
whole affair, while the Princess was never 
weary of telling all that she knew, or of 
blessing all bishops for the sake of the 
Bishop of Modenstein. Yet the Bishop 
blamed himself ; perhaps, if the truth were 
known, not for the necessity that drove him 
to do what he did, as much as for a secret 

160 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

and ashamed joy which he detected in him- 
self. For certainly, as he burst into the 
room now, there was no sign of reluctance 
or unwillingness in his face ; he took off his 
feathered hat, bowed politely to the Count, 
and resting the point of his sword on the 
floor, asked : 

" My lord, where is the Princess ? " 

4 What do you want here, and who are 
you ?" cried the Count with a blasphemous 

" When we were boys together, you knew 
Frederick of Hentzau. Do you not now 
know the Bishop of Modenstein ? " 

" Bishop ! This is no place for bishops. 
Get back to your prayers, my lord." 

u It wants some time yet before matins," 
answered the Bishop. " My lord, where is 
the Princess ? " 

" What do you want with her ? " 

" I am here to escort her wherever it 
may be her pleasure to go." 

He spoke confidently, but he was in his 
heart alarmed and uneasy because he had 
not found the Princess. 

11 1 do not know where she is," said 
Nikolas of Festenburg. 

" My lord, you lie," said the Bishop of 


The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein* 16.1 

The Count had wanted nothing but an 
excuse for attacking the intruder. He had 
it now, and an angry flush mounted in his 
cheeks as he walked across to where the 
Bishop stood. 

Shifting his sword, which he had picked 
up again, to his left hand, he struck the 
Bishop on the face with his gloved hand. 
The Bishop smiled and turned the other 
cheek to Count Nikolas, who struck again 
with all his force, so that he reeled back, 
catching hold of the open door to avoid 
falling, and the blood started dull red under 
the skin of his face. But he still smiled, 
and bowed, saying : 

" I find nothing about the third blow in 
Holy Scripture." 

At this instant the Princess Osra, who 
had been half stunned by the violence with 
which Nikolas had thrown her on the floor, 
came to her full senses and, hearing the 
Bishop's voice, she cried out loudly for help. 
He, hearing her, darted in an instant across 
the room, and was at the door of the little 
chamber before the Count could stop him. 
He pulled the door open and Osra sprang 
out to him, saying : 

" Save me ! Save me!" 

" You are safe, madame, have no fear," 

162 The Heart of Princess Osra, 

answered the Bishop. And turning to the 
Count, he continued : " Let us go outside, 
my lord, and discuss this matter. Our dis- 
pute will disturb and perhaps alarm the 

And a man might have read the purpose 
in his eyes, though his manner and words 
were gentle ; for he had sworn in his heart 
that the Count should not escape. 

But the Count cared as little for the 
presence of the Princess as he had for her 
dignity, her honour, or her life : and now 
that she was no longer wholly at his mercy, 
but there was a new chance that she might 
escape, his rage and the fear of exposure 
lashed him to fury, and, without more talk- 
ing, he made at the Bishop, crying : 

" You first, and then her ! I'll be rid of 
the pair of you ? " 

The Bishop faced him, standing between 
Princess Osra and his assault, while she 
shrank back a little, sheltering herself be- 
hind the heavy door. For although she 
had been ready to die without fear, yet the 
sight of men fighting frightened her, and 
she veiled her face with her hands, and 
waited in dread to hear the sound of their 
swords clashing. But the Bishop looked 
very happy, and, setting his hat on his head 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein. 163 

with a jaunty air, he stood on guard. For 
ten years or more he had not used his 
sword, but the secret of its mastery seemed 
to revive, fresh and clear in his mind, and 
let his soul say what it would, his body 
rejoiced to be at the exercise again, so that 
his blood kindled and his eyes gleamed in 
the glee of strife. Thus he stepped for- 
ward, guarding himself, and thus he met 
the Count's impetuous onset ; he neither 
flinched nor gave back, but finding himself 
holding his own, he pressed on and on, not 
violently attacking and yet never resting, 
and turning every thrust with a wrist of 
iron. And while Osra now gazed with wide 
eyes and close-held breath, and Count 
Nikolas muttered oaths and grew more 
furious, the Bishop seemed as gay as when 
he talked to the King, more gaily, may be, 
than Bishops should. Again his eye 
danced as in the days when he had been 
called the wildest of the Hentzaus. And 
still he drove Count Nikolas back and back. 
Now behind the Count was a window, 
which he himself had caused to be enlarged 
and made low and wide, in order that he 
might look from it over the surrounding 
country ; in time of war it was covered with 
a close and strong iron grating. But now 

164 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

the grating was off and the window open, 
and beneath the window was a fall of fifty 
feet or hard upon it into the moat below. 
The Count, looking into the Bishop's face, 
and seeing him smile, suddenly recollected 
the window, and fancied it was the Bishop's 
design to drive him on to it so that he 
could give back no more ; and, since he 
knew by now that the Bishop was his master 
with the sword, a despairing rage settled 
upon him ; determining to die swiftly, since 
die he must, he rushed forward, making a 
desperate lunge at his enemy. But the 
Bishop parried the lunge, and, always seem- 
ing to be about to run the Count through 
the body, again forced him to retreat till his 
back was close to the opening of the win- 
dow. Here Nikolas stood, his eyes glaring 
like a madman's ; then a sudden devilish 
smile spread over his face. 

' Will you yield yourself, my lord ? " cried 
the Bishop, putting a restraint on the 
wicked impulse to kill the man, and lower- 
ing his point for an instant. 

In that short moment the Count made 
his last throw ; for all at once, as it seemed, 
and almost in one motion, he thrust and 
wounded the Bishop in the left side of his 
body, high in the chest near the shoulder, 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein* 165 

and, though the wound was slight, the blood 
flowed freely ; then drawing back his sword, 
he seized it by the blade half-way up and 
flung it like a javelin at the Princess, who 
stood still by the door, breathlessly watch- 
ing the fight. By an ace it missed her 
head, and it pinned a tress of her hair to the 
door and quivered deep-set in the wood of 
the door. When the Bishop of Modenstein 
saw this, hesitation and mercy passed out 
of his heart, and though the man had now 
no weapon, he thought of sparing him no 
more than he would have spared any cruel 
and savage beast, but he drove his sword 
into his body, and the Count, not being able 
to endure the thrust without flinching, 
against his own will gave back before it. 
Then came from his lips a loud cry of dis- 
may and despair ; for at the same moment 
that the sword was in him he, staggering 
back, fell wounded to death through the open 
window. The Bishop looked out after him, 
and Princess Osra heard the sound of a 
great splash in the water of the moat be- 
low ; for very horror she sank against the 
door, seeming to be held up more by the 
sword that had pinned her hair than by 
her own strength. Then came up through 
the window, from which the Bishop still 

1 66 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

looked with a strange smile, the clatter of 
a hundred feet, running to the gate of the 
Castle. The bridge was let down ; the con- 
fused sound of many men talking, of whis- 
pers, of shouts, and of cries of horror, 
mounted up through the air. For the 
Count's men in the hall also had heard the 
splash, and run out to see what it was, 
and there they beheld the body of their 
master, dead in the^moat; their eyes were 
wide open, and they could hardly lay their 
tongues to the words as they pointed to 
the body and whispered to one another, 
very low : " The Bishop has killed him 
the Bishop has killed him." But the Bishop 
saw them from the window, and leant out, 
crying : 

"Yes, I have killed him. So perish all 
such villains ! " 

When they looked up, and saw in the 
moonlight the Bishop's face, they were 
amazed. But he hastily drew his head in, 
so that they might not see him any more. 
For he knew that his face had been fierce, 
and exultant, and joyful. Then, dropping 
his sword, he ran across to the Princess ; 
he drew the Count's sword, which was wet 
with his own blood, out of the door, releas- 
ing the Princess's hair ; and, seeing that 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein. 167 

she was very faint, he put his arm about 
her, and led hereto the couch ; she sank 
upon it, trembling and white as her white 
gown, and murmuring : " Fearful, fearful ! " 
and she clutched his arm, and for a long 
while she would not let him go ; and her 
eyes were fixed on the Count's sword that 
lay on the floor by the entrance of the little 

" Courage, madame," said the Bishop 
softly. " All danger is past. The villain is 
dead, and you are with the most devoted of 
your servants." 

" Yes, yes," she said, and pressed his arm 
and shivered. " Is he really dead ?" 

" He is dead. God have mercy on him," 
said the Bishop. 

" And you killed him?" 

" I killed him. If it were a sin, pray 
God forgive me ! " 

Up through the window still came the 
noise of voices and the stir of men moving ; 
for they were recovering the body of the 
Count from the moat ; yet neither Osra 
nor the Bishop noticed any longer what was 
passing ; he was intent on her, and she 
seemed hardly yet herself ; but suddenly, 
before he could interpose, she threw her- 
self off the couch and on to her knees 

i68 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

in front of him, and, seizing hold of his 
hand, she kissed first the episcopal ring 
that he wore and then his hand. For he 
was both Bishop and a gallant gentleman, 
and a kiss she gave him for each ; and after 
she had kissed his hand, she held it in both 
of hers as though for safety's sake she 
clung to it. But he raised her hastily, cry- 
ing to her not to kneel before him, and, 
throwing away his hat, he knelt before her, 
kissing her hands many times. She seemed 
now recovered from her bewilderment and 
terror ; for as she looked down on him 
kneeling, she was half-way between tears 
and smiles, and with curving lips but wet 
shining eyes, she said very softly : 

"Ah, my lord, who made a bishop of 
you?" And her cheeks grew in an instant 
from dead white into sudden red, and her 
hand moved over his head as if she would 
fain have touched him with it. And she 
bent down ever so little towards him. Yet, 
perhaps, it was nothing ; any lady, who had 
seen how he bore himself, and knew that 
it was in her cause, for her honour and life, 
might well have done the same. 

The Bishop of Modenstein made no im- 
mediate answer ; his head was still bowed 
over her hand, and after a while he kissed 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein. 169 

her hand again ; and he felt her hand press 
his. Then, suddenly, as though in alarm, 
she drew her hand away, and he let it go 
easily. Then he raised his eyes and met 
the glance of hers, and he smiled ; and 
Osra also smiled. For an instant they 
were thus. Then the Bishop rose to his 
feet, and he stood before her with bent 
head and eyes that sought the ground in 
becoming humility. 

" It is by God's infinite goodness and 
divine permission that I hold my sacred 
office." said he. " I would that I were 
more worthy of it ! But to-day I have 
taken pleasure in the killing of a man." 

"And in the saving of a lady, sir," she 
added softly, "who will ever count you 
among her dearest friends and the most 
gallant of her defenders. Is God angry at 
such a deed as that ? " 

" May He forgive us all our sins," said 
the Bishop gravely ; but what other sins he 
had in his mind he did not say, nor did the 
Princess ask him. 

Then he gave her his arm, and they two 
walked together down the stairs into the 
hall ; the Bishop, having forgotten both his 
hat and his sword, was bare-headed and 
had no weapon in his hand. The Count's 

170 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

men were all collected in the hall, being 
crowded round a table that stood by the 
wall ; for on the table lay the body of Count 
Nikolas of Festenburg, and it was covered 
with a horse-cloth that one of the servants 
had thrown over it. But when the men 
saw the Princess and the Bishop, they made 
way for them and stood aside, bowing low 
as they passed. 

" You bow now," said Osra, " but, be- 
fore, none of you would lift a finger for me. 
To my lord the Bishop alone do I owe my 
life ; and he is a Churchman, while you were 
free to fight for me. For my part, I do not 
envy your wives such husbands ; " and with 
a most scornful air she passed between 
their ranks, taking great and ostentatious 
care not to touch one of them even with the 
hem of her gown. At this they grew red 
and shuffled on their feet ; and one or two 
swore under their breath, and thanked God 
their wives were not such shrews, being 
indeed very much ashamed of themselves, 
and very uneasy at thinking what these 
same wives of theirs would say to them 
when the thing came to be known. But 
Osra and the Bishop passed over the 
bridge, and he set her on his horse The 
summer morning had just dawned, clear and 


The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein* 171 

fair, so that the sun caught her ruddy hair 
as she mounted in her white gown. But 
the Bishop took the bridle of the horse and 
led it at a foot's pace down the hill and 
into the town. 

Now by this time the news of what had 
chanced had run all through the town, and 
the people were out in the streets, gossip- 
ing and guessing. And when they saw the 
Princess Osra safe and sound and smiling, 
and the Bishop in his shirt for he had 
given his cloak to her leading the horse, 
they broke into great cheering. The men 
cheered the Princess, while the women 
thrust themselves to the front rank of the 
crowd, and blessed the Bishop of Moden- 
stein. But he walked with his head down 
and his eyes on the ground, and would not 
look up, even when the women cried out in 
great fear and admiration on seeing that 
his shirt was stained with his blood and 
with the blood of Nikolas of Festenburg 
that had spurted out upon it. But one 
thing the Princess heard, which sent her 
cheeks red again ; for a buxom girl glanced 
merrily at her, and made bold to say in 
a tone that the Princess could not but 
hear : 

" By the Saints, here's waste ! If he 

172 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

were not a Churchman, now ! " And her 
laughing eye travelled from the Princess to 
him, and back to the Princess again. 

4< Shall we go a little faster?" whispered 
Osra, bending down to the Bishop. But 
the girl only thought that she whispered 
something else, and laughed the more. 

At last they passed the town, and with 
a great crowd still following them, came 
to the Castle. At the gate of it the Bishop 
stopped and aided the Princess to alight. 
Again he knelt and kissed her hand, say- 
ing only : 

" Madame, farewell !" 

" Farewell, my lord," said Osra softly ; 
and she went hastily into the Castle, while 
the Bishop returned to his inn in the town, 
and though the people stood round the 
inn the best part of the day, calling and 
watching for him, he would not shew him- 

In the evening of that day the King, 
having heard the tidings of the crime of 
Count Nikolas, came in furious haste with 
a troop of horse from Strelsau. And when 
he heard how Osra had played at dice with 
the Count, and staking herself against the 
Castle of Zenda had won it back, he was 
ashamed, and swore an oath that he would 

The Sin of the Bishop of Modenstein. 173 

play dice no more, which oath he faithfully 
observed. But in the morning of the next 
day he went to Festenburg, where he 
flogged soundly every man who had not 
run away before his coming ; and all the 
possessions of Count Nikolas he confis- 
cated, and he pulled down the Castle of 
Festenburg, and filled up the moat that had 
run round its walls. 

Then he sent for the Bishop of Moden- 
stein, and thanked him, offering to him all 
the demesne of Count Nikolas ; but the 
Bishop would not accept it, nor any mark 
of the King's favour, not even the Order of 
the Red Rose. Therefore the King granted 
the ground on which the Castle stood, 
and all the lands belonging to it, to Francis 
of Tarlenheim, brother-in-law to the wife of 
Prince Henry, who built the ckdteau which 
now stands there and belongs to the same 
family to this day. 

But the Bishop of Modenstein, having 
been entertained by the King with great 
splendour for two days, would not stay 
longer, but set out to pursue his journey, 
clad now in his ecclesiastical garments. 
And Princess Osra sat by her window, lean- 
ing her head on her hand, and watching him 
till the trees of the forest hid him ; and once, 

174 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

when he was on the edge of the forest, 
he turned his face for an instant, and 
looked back at her where she sat watching 
in the window. Thus he went to Strelsau ; 
and when he was come there, he sent im- 
mediately for his confessor, and the con- 
fessor, having heard him, laid upon him a 
severe penance, which he performed with 
great zeal, exactness, and contrition. But 
whether the penance were for killing Count 
Nikolas of Festenburg (which in a layman, 
at least, would have seemed but a venial 
sin) or for what else, who shall say ? 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter* 

WHEN the twenty-first birthday of the 
Princess Osra approached, her brother 
King Rudolf, desiring to make her a pres- 
ent, summoned from his home at Verona, 
in Italy, a painter of very high fame, by 
name Giraldo, and commanded him to paint 
a portrait of the Princess, to be her brother's 
gift to her. This command Giraldo carried 
out, the Princess giving him every oppor- 
tunity of studying her features and grudg- 
ing no time that was spent by her in front 
of his easel ; and the picture, when finished, 
being pronounced to be as faithful as 
beautiful the reputation of Giraldo was 
greatly enhanced by the painting of it. 
Thus it followed that in many cases, when 
foreign Princes had heard the widespread 
praises of Osra's beauty, they sent orders 
to Giraldo to execute for them, and despatch 
with all speed, miniatures or other portraits 
of the Princess, that they might judge for 

176 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

themselves whether she were in truth as 
lovely as report said ; and they sent Giraldo 
large sums of money in recompense, adding 
not seldom some further donation on the 
express term and condition that Giraldo 
should observe absolute fidelity in his 
representation and not permit himself the 
least flattery. For some desired them- 
selves to court her, and others intended 
their sons to ask her hand, if the evidence 
of Giraldo's portraits satisfied their hopes. 
So Giraldo, although but two or three 
years above thirty, grew in both fame and 
wealth, and was very often indebted to the 
Princess for the favour of a visit to his 
house, that he might again correct his 
memory of her face. 

Now what several Princes had done be- 
fore, it chanced that the King of Glotten- 
berg also did ; and Giraldo, to all appear- 
ance much pleased, accepted the command, 
and prayed the Princess to visit him ; for, 
he said, this picture was to be larger and 
more elaborate than the rest, and therefore 
needed more study of her. So the Princess 
went many times, and the portrait destined 
for the King of Glottenberg (who was said 
to be seeking a suitable alliance for his 
eldest son) grew before her eyes into the 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter. 177 

most perfect and beautiful presentment of 
her which the skill of Giraldo had ever 
accomplished, surpassing even that first pic- 
ture which he had painted by King Rudolfs 
command. The King made no doubt that, 
so soon as the picture had reached the Court 
of Glottenberg, an embassy would come 
from there to demand the hand of his 
sister for the Crown Prince, a proposal 
which he would have received with much 
pleasure and gratification. 

" I do not think," said Osra, tossing her 
head, " that any such embassy will come, 
sire. For four or five pictures have been al- 
ready painted by Signor Giraldo in like man- 
ner, but no embassies have come. It seems 
that my poor features do not find approval 
in the Courts of Europe." 

Her tone, it must be confessed, was full 
of contempt. For the Princess Osra knew 
that she was beautiful, as indeed all beauti- 
ful ladies are, by the benevolence of 
heaven, permitted to know. How much 
greater mischief might they work, if such 
knowledge were denied them ! 

" That's true enough," cried Rudolf. 
" And I do not understand the meaning of it. 
But it will not be so at Glottenberg. For 
my good brother the King has eyes in his 

1 78 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

head, and his son sees no less well. I met 
them on my travels, and I can speak to 
it. Most certainly an embassy will come 
from Glottenberg before we are a month 

Yet, strange to say, the same thing fol- 
lowed on the despatch of the portrait 
(which Giraldo sent by a certain trusty 
messenger, whom he was accustomed to 
employ) as had happened before ; no em- 
bassy came, and the King of Glottenberg 
excused himself from paying a visit to Strel- 
sau, which he and his son had promised on 
the invitation of King Rudolf. Therefore 
Rudolf was very vexed, and Osra also, 
thinking herself scorned, was very sore at 
heart, although she bore herself more 
proudly than before. But, being very 
greatly disturbed in her mind concerning 
her beauty, she went herself again to 
Giraldo and charged him to paint her once 

"This picture," she said, "is for my own 
eyes, and mine alone. Therefore, signer, 
paint it faithfully, and spare me not. For 
if a woman be ugly, it is well she should 
know it, and it seems that nobody in the 
kingdom will tell me the truth, although I 
get hints enough of it from abroad," And 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter* 179 

she frowned and flushed and was very sadly 
out of temper, as any beautiful lady would 
most naturally be in such a case. 

Giraldo bowed very low, seeking to hide 
the sudden red that dyed his cheek, and to 
conceal the great joy which the command 
of the Princess gave him. For by reason 
of having painted the Princess so often, of 
having studied her face so curiously, and of 
having spent so much time in her company, 
listening to her conversation, and enjoying 
her wit and grace, this hapless young man 
had become so deeply and desperately her 
lover, that he no longer cared to use his 
brush in the service of any other lady or 
lord, but stayed at Strelsau solely that he 
might again and again depict the face that 
he loved ; and, save when she sat before 
him, he seemed now unable to ply his art at 
all, and had he not received so many com- 
mands for pictures of her, he would have sat 
all day long idle, thinking of her; which, 
indeed, was what he did in the intervals 
between his labour on her portraits. But 
she, not imagining such presumption and 
folly on his part, thought that he was glad 
merely because she would pay him well ; 
so she promised him more and more, if he 
would but paint her faithfully. And he gave 

180 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

her his word that he would paint her in 
every respect most faithfully. 

" I desire to know," said she, "what I 
am in truth like ; for my mirror says one 
thing, and the King of Glottenberg ' 

But here she stopped, remembering that 
such matters were not fit for Giraldo's ears. 
Yet he must have understood, for a strange, 
cunning, exultant smile came on his lips as 
he turned away and set himself to mix 
the colours on his palette. Thus he began 
this last picture and the Princess came 
every day and stayed long, so that Gir- 
aldo might be able to render her likeness 
in every most minute respect with perfect 

"For," she thought resentfully, " either 
I have no eyes, or they have none in Glot- 

When she had been visiting Giraldo thus 
for hard on a month, and the picture was 
nearly finished, and was at once the most 
lovely and the most faithful of all that 
Giraldo had painted, it chanced that letters 
came to the King from a nobleman of 
France who was well known to him, and 
had known the Princess well also, the Mar- 
quis de Merosailles. And the Marquis 
wrote to the King in the greatest indigna- 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter. 181 

tion and scorn, upbraiding the King and 
saying : 

" What is this, sire ? Do you keep a 
madman at your Court, and call him a 
painter ? I have been at Glottenberg ; and 
when I spoke there, as it is my humble 
duty and true delight to speak every- 
where, of the incomparable beauty of your 
Majesty's sister the Princess Osra, the 
King, his son, and all the company, did 
nothing but laugh. I fought three duels 
with gentlemen of the Court on this ac- 
count, and two of them I, heaven helping 
me, wounded, and one, by some devil's 
trick, wounded me. After this, the matter 
coming to the King's ear, he sent for me, 
and excused the laughter by showing me a 
picture done by a rascal called Giraldo at 
your Court, the picture was named after 
your Majesty's most matchless sister ; but, 
as I am a true son of the Church, it was 
like the devil's daughter, and, on my 
honour and conscience, it squinted most 
villainously. I pray you, sire, find out 
the meaning of this thing ; and receive 
most humble duty and homage from your 
devoted sj^arjt, and, since your gracious- 
ness so wills it, most obftged and obedient 
friend, Henri Marquis de Merosailles. I 
kiss the hand of the Princess." 

1 82 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

When King Rudolf had read this letter, 
he grew very thoughtful, and, unknown to 
Giraldo, he sent and caught the messenger 
whom Giraldo was wont to entrust with the 
pictures, and who carried the picture of 
which M. de Merosailles wrote to Glotten- 
berg ; and the King interrogated the messen- 
ger most closely, but got nothing from 
him, save that he himself never beheld the 
pictures which he carried, but received 
them most carefully packed from Giraldo, 
and so delivered them without undoing the 
coverings, and then by Giraldo's strict 
orders returned at once, and did not wait 
until the recipient had inspected the picture. 
So that the fellow did not know anything 
about the picture that had gone to Glotten- 
berg, except that it was certainly the same 
as Giraldo had entrusted to his hands. 
But the King was not satisfied, and, learn- 
ing that his sister was at that moment at 
Giraldo's house, being painted afresh by 
him, he called half-a-dozen of his gentle- 
men, and set out on horseback for the place 
where Giraldo lived in the street that runs 
from the Cathedral towards the western 
gate of Strelsau. To this day the house 
stands there. 

The Princess sat and Giraldo painted. 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter* 183 

Behind the Princess was a window, looking 
on to the street, and behind Giraldo was a 
second door, which led into an inner room. 
On Giraldo's easel stood the nearly finished 
picture ; Giraldo's eyes were alight both 
with love and with triumph, as he turned 
from the Princess to the picture, and from 
the picture to the Princess again ; and she, 
seeing something of his admiration, said 
with a blush : 

"Is it indeed faithful, signer?" For it 
seemed even to herself a marvellously lovely 

" No, madame," answered he. " For my 
imperfect hand cannot be faithful to per- 

" I pray you, do not flatter me. Have 
you indeed shewn every fault of my face ? " 

" If there be a fault in your face, 
madame, there it is also in my picture," said 

The Princess was silent for a moment, 
then she said : 

" It is better, is it not, than the picture 
you painted for the King of Glotten- 

Giraldo painted a stroke or two before he 
answered carelessly : 

" Indeed, madame, it is more faithful 

184 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

than that which the King of Glottenberg 

" Then less beautiful ? " asked Osra with 
a petulant smile. 

" Nay, I do not say that ; not less beauti- 
ful," he answered. 

" Perhaps he would like this one better, 
and give me his in exchange ; for I never 
saw his after it was finished. I think I will 
ask the King to write to him." 

Giraldo had turned round suddenly as the 
Princess made this suggestion ; she had 
spoken half in sport, half in continuing 
chagrin at the blindness shewn by the Court 
of Glottenberg. Now he stood staring at 
her with wide-open alarmed eyes ; and he 
dropped his brushes on to the floor. 

" What ails you, signor ? " she cried. " I 
did but suggest exchanging the pictures." 

He tried to regain his composure, as he 
stooped to pick up his brushes. 

" The King of Glottenberg's picture is 
the best for him to have," said he sullenly. 
' This one, madame, I painted for you 
yourself, and for you alone." 

" I pay the price and can do what I will 
with the picture," returned the Princess 
haughtily. " If I desire, I will give it to 
the King of Glottenberg." 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter. 185 

Giraldo had now turned very pale, and, 
forgetful of the picture, stood gazing fixedly 
at the Princess. For he could no longer 
hold down in secrecy and silence the passion 
that possessed him, but it was declared in 
his eyes and in the trembling of his limbs ; 
so that the Princess rose from her chair 
and shrank away from him in alarm, re- 
gretting that she had dismissed her ladies, 
in order to be less restrained in talk with 
the painter ; and she tried to cry out, that 
they might hear her where they were in an 
adjoining room, but her cry froze on her 
lips at the sight of Giraldo's passion. And 
he cried in a hoarse whisper: 

" He shall not have the picture, he shall 
not have it ! " As he spoke he moved 
nearer to the Princess, who still shrank 
away from him, being now in very great 
alarm, and thinking that surely he had run 
mad. Yet she looked at him, and, looking, 
saw whence his madness came ; and she 
felt pity for him, and held out her clasped 
hands towards him, saying in a very soft 
voice, and with eyes that grew sad and 
tender : 

" Ah, signor, signor, am I always to 
have lovers, and never a friend ? " 

At this the unfortunate painter was over- 

1 86 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

come, and dropping his head between his 
hands he gave a deep half-stifled sob, and 
then he cried : 

" God's curse on me, for having slan- 
dered the beauty that I love ! " And then 
he sobbed again. 

But the Princess wondered greatly what 
he meant by his strange cry, and turned 
her eyes again on him in bewildered ques- 
tioning ; saying, as she pointed to the 
picture : 

" There is no slander here, signor, unless 
too much praise be slander." 

Giraldo made her no answer in words, but, 
springing towards her, caught her .by the 
wrist, and drew her across the room to the 
door behind his easel. With feverish haste 
he unlocked it and passed through. The 
Princess, although now free from his grip, 
followed him in a strange fascination. 
Giraldo drew the door close behind him ; 
and at that moment the Princess gave a cry, 
half a scream, half laughter. For facing 
her she saw, each on its easel, three, four, 
five, six pictures of herself, each beautiful 
and painted most lovingly ; and the last of 
the six was the picture that had been 
painted by order of the King of Glotten- 
berg. For she knew it by the attire, 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter. 187 

although the face had not been finished 
when she had last seen it. A sudden en- 
lightenment pierced her mind, and she knew 
that Giraldo had not sent the pictures for 
which she had sat to him, but kept them 
himself, and sent others to his patrons. 
This strange conviction found its sure con- 
firmation in a seventh easel which stood 
apart from the rest, on the other side of the 
room ; for it supported what was in all 
respects a copy of the portrait on which 
Giraldo was now engaged, save that by 
cunning touches he had imparted to the 
face an alien and fearful aspect ; for here, 
although the features had their shape and 
perfect grace, yet it was the face of a devil 
that looked out of the canvas, a face that a 
man would not have gazing at him from the 
wall on to the bed where he sought to sleep. 

But when Giraldo saw her eyes fixed on 
this picture, he cried : 

" That is for you the other is mine. 
Are they not your features ? The King of 
Glottenberg should not have even your 
features. But you shall have them, and if a 
devil looks out through such a fair mask, is 
it not so with all fair women that lead men 
to destruction ? There is your true picture, 
Princess Osra ! " And he flung himself on 

1 88 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

a couch with a mad cry of rage, and then a 
groan of despair. 

The Princess Osra looked at him, and at 
the beautiful pictures, and then at the pic- 
ture that was like her and yet like a devil. 
First she pitied the painter, and then mar- 
velled at the wonderful mad skill, which so 
transformed her without drawing a line that 
could be called untrue. Thus thinking, she 
stood for a while, grave and puzzled. But 
then the humour struck her, as it struck 
her House always in great things and in 
small ; it seemed to her most ludicrous that 
the pictures should all be resting here in 
Giraldo's house, while the Princes who 
had commanded portraits of her had re- 
ceived nothing but distorted parodies of her 
face, to the end that they might be dis- 
gusted and, abandoning the alliance they 
had projected, leave her still at Strelsau, to 
be painted times out of number and most 
fruitlessly by this mad painter. And these 
thoughts gaining the mastery over the 
others, in spite of the sad plight of unhappy 
Signor Giraldo, her lips curved into a bow, 
her eyes gleamed in dancing merriment, 
and a moment later she broke into a glad 
gleeful laugh, that rose and rippled, and fell 
to soft delighted murmurings. As she 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter. 189 

looked again at the picture that was like her 
and also like a devil, her mirth grew and 
grew at the ingenuity of the work and the 
mocking devilry so cunningly made out of 
her face. Small wonder was it to her now 
that the embassies had not come. 

The Princess Osra thus stood laughing, 
and presently Signor Giraldo looked up. 
When he had listened and looked for a few 
moments, his wild mood caught the infec- 
tion from her, so that, springing to his feet, 
he also began to laugh loudly, like a man 
who cannot restrain his amusement, but is 
carried away by it beyond all bounds and 
restraints. Thus Giraldo laughed loudly, 
long, and fiercely ; for there was madness 
in his laugh. And the Princess heard the 
madness ; even while she still laughed, her 
eyes opened in wonder ; alarm came on her 
face, her merry laugh quivered, trembled, 
choked in her throat, and at last died away 
into dumbness ; yet her lips hung apart 
frozen in the shape of laughter, while no 
laughter came. But as her laugh thus 
ended in mute horror, his grew louder yet 
and wilder, and its peal rang through the 
room, as he gasped between his spasms of 
horrid mirth, " You, you, you ! " and pointed 
at the picture which he had touched to devil- 

190 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

ishness. But she shrank away, and stood 
crouched against the wall ; for she knew 
now that he was mad, but did not know to 
what his fury might next lead him. Then 
he caught up a knife that lay on the sill of 
the window, and, now smiling as though in 
grim quiet amusement, strode across to the 
row of pictures, and reached up to them, 
knife in hand. But Osra suddenly sprang 
forward, crying : 

" Do not hurt them." 

" These ? " he asked, turning to her with 
a sneer. " These? I'll destroy them all, 
for they are no longer beautiful to me, but 
that one only is beautiful, because it is 
true." And he wrenched his arm away 
from the detaining hand she had laid upon 
it. Falling back in terror, she watched him 
cutting and slashing each of the pictures, 
until the face was utterly destroyed. And 
she feared that when he had finished with 
the pictures, he would turn upon her ; there- 
fore she flung herself on the couch, hiding 
her face for fear of some horrible fate ; 
she murmured low to herself, " Not my 
face, O God, not my face ! " and she pressed 
her face down into the cushions of the 
couch, while he, muttering and grumbling 
to himself, cut the pictures into strips and 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter* 191 

ribbons, and strewed the fragments at his 
feet on the floor. This done, he turned to 
the devil's face that he loved, and poured out 
to it, as though it had been a cruel idol he 
worshipped, a flood of wild passionate re- 
proachful words, that Osra shivered to hear, 
and the purport of which she dared tell 
none, though for all her prayers she could 
not herself forget one of them. 

At last he came to her again, and plucked 
her roughly and rudely from the couch 
where she lay, and dragged her behind him 
back to the door again and through it ; and 
they stood together in front of the last pic- 
ture, whose paint was still wet from his 
hand. The painted face smiled down on 
the trembling pale girl with its smile of 
careless serene dignity, so that now even 
to herself it seemed hardly to be her pic- 
ture. For it was the true presentment of 
a King's daughter, and she no better than 
a helpless frightened girl. It seemed to 
reproach her ; and suddenly she drew herself 
to her height, and turned on Giraldo, say- 
ing : "You shall not touch it." 

She stept forward, so that she stood be- 
tween him and the picture, raising her hand, 
and forbidding him to approach it with his 
knife. And now the picture seemed more 

192 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

to be hers, although while it smiled she 

But at this moment there came through 
the window that opened on the street the 
clatter of horses' hoofs. At the sound 
Giraldo arrested the motion that he had 
already made to fling himself on the Prin- 
cess ; whether to kill her, or only to thrust 
her away from in front of the picture she 
did not know. Running to the window, he 
looked out, and called in seeming glee : " It 
is the King come to see my pictures ! " 
And he looked proud and happy. Going 
to the door of the room, he flung it open, 
and stood there waiting for the King and 
the gentlemen who attended the King. 
They were not long in coming, for Rudolf 
was full of anger, impatience, and curiosity, 
and ran swiftly up the staircase. His gen- 
tlemen pressed into the room behind him, 
and Giraldo drew back, keeping his face to 
the King and bowing again and again. But 
the King and the rest saw the knife in his 
hand ; and ragged strips of painted canvas 
hung here and there on his clothes, while 
the Princess, pale and proud, stood guard- 
ing the picture on the easel. The King, in 
spite of his wonder, was not turned from 
the purpose which had brought him to the 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter. 193 

painter's house, but with a quick step 
darted up to Giraldo and thrust the letter 
of the Marquis de Merosailles into his hand, 
bidding him in a sharp peremptory tone to 
read it and give what explanation he could 
of the contents. Giraldo fell to reading it, 
while the King turned to his sister in order 
to ask her why she seemed agitated, and 
stood so obstinately in front of her own 
picture ; but at that instant one of the gen- 
tlemen, whose name was Ladislas, gave a cry 
of surprise ; for he had looked through the 
door into the inner room, and seen the 
havoc and destruction that Giraldo had 
made, and also the strange and terrible 
picture which alone had escaped the knife. 
The King, wondering, followed Ladislas to 
the threshold of the inner room and passed 
it, while his gentlemen, full of curiosity, 
crowded close on his heels after him. 

The Princess Osra, thinking herself safe, 
found her anger and terror pass away as 
her mirth had passed before. Now she felt 
in her heart that pity which borders on 
tenderness, and which she could never re- 
fuse to a man who loved her, let the folly 
of his love and of the extravagances into 
which it drove him be as great as it would. 
Turning towards Giraldo, she saw him fret- 

194 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

ting his puckered brow with his hand, and 
vainly seeking to compel his disordered 
brain to understand M. de Merosailles' let- 
ter. So she was very sorry for him, and, 
knowing the sudden hot temper to which the 
careless King was subject, she glided swiftly 
across to the painter, and whispered: " Es- 
cape and hide. Hide for a few days. He 
will be furious now, but he will soon for- 

et. Don't wait now, but escape, signor. 
ome harm will happen to you here ; " and 
in her eager pleading with him she laid 
her hand on his arm, and looked up in his 
face with imploring eyes. But he looked 
at her with dazed vacant stare, muttering, 
" I cannot read the letter ; " then a wistful 
smile came on his face, and he thrust the 
letter towards her, saying: "Madame, will 
you read it for me ? " And at that moment 
they heard the King swear an angry oath ; 
for he had seen the mad picture of his 

" No, no, not now," whispered Osra, be- 
seeching Giraldo. " Not now, signor. 
Listen, the King is angry ! Escape now, 
and we will read the letter afterwards." 
She was as earnest as though she had 
loved him and were praying him to save 
himself for the sake of her love. 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter* 195 

Giraldo looked into her softened eyes ; 
suddenly giving a little cry, as if a great 
joy had come to him unexpectedly and 
contrary to all likelihood, he dropped M. de 
Merosailles' letter, and sprang to where his 
brushes lay on the floor ; seizing them and 
his palette, he gave another swift glance at 
the Princess, and then, turning to the pic- 
ture, began to paint with marvellous dexter- 
ity and deftness and with the sudden confi- 
dence of a man inspired to the work. As 
he worked, his brow grew smoother, the 
tension of his strained face relaxed, happi- 
ness dawned in his eyes, and a smile broke 
on his lips ; and Osra watched him with a 
tender sorrowful gaze. Still he painted, and 
he was painting when the King burst in 
from the other room in a great rage, 
carrying his sword drawn in his hand ; for 
he had sworn by Our Lady and St. Peter to 
kill the rogue who had done the Princess 
such wrong and so slandered her beauty. 
And his gentlemen came in with him, all 
very ready to see Giraldo killed, but each 
eager that the King should leave the task 
to him. Yet when they entered and saw 
Giraldo painting as though he were rapt by 
some ecstasy and had forgotten all that had 
passed, nay, even their very presence, they 

196 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

paused in unwilling and constrained hesita- 
tion. Osra raised her hand to bid them 
stay still where they were, and not interfere 
with Giraldo's painting. For now she de- 
sired above all things on earth that he 
should be left to finish his task. For he 
thought that he had read more than pity 
and more than tenderness in Osra's eyes ; 
he had seemed to see love there, and thus 
he had cried out in joy, and thus he was 
now painting as never had even he, for all 
his skill, painted before. His unerring 
hand, moving lightly to and fro, imparted 
the sweetness of his delusive vision to the 
canvas, so that the eyes of the portrait 
glowed with wonderful and beautiful love 
and gentleness. Presently Giraldo began 
to sing very softly to himself a sweet happy 
old song, that peasants sang to peasant 
girls in the fields outside his native Verona 
on summer evenings. His head was thrown 
back in triumph and exultation as he sang 
and worked, tasting the luxury of love, and 
glorying in the tribute that his genius paid 
to her whom he loved. Thus came a mo- 
ment of great joy to the soul of Giraldo 
the painter ; for a man's love and a man's 
work are, when they seem to prosper, of all 
things the sweetest, and their union in one 
his life's consummation. 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter. 197 

It was done. He laid down the brush, 
and drew back a step, looking at what he 
had done. The Princess came softly and 
slowly, as though attracted against her will, 
and she stood by him ; for she saw that this 
picture was now, beyond all compare, the 
most perfect and beautiful of all that he or 
any other man had painted of her ; and she 
loved him for thus glorifying her. But, be- 
fore many moments had gone by, a sudden 
start and shiver ran through Giraldo's 
body. The spell of his entranced ecstasy 
broke ; his eyes fell from the masterpiece 
that he had made, and wandered to those 
who stood about him to the gentlemen 
who did not know whether to wonder or to 
laugh, to the angry face of the King and 
the naked sword in his hand, at last to 
Osra, whose eyes were still on the picture. 
His exultation vanished, and with it went, 
as it seemed to them, his madness. Reason 
dawned for a moment in his eyes, but was 
quenched in an instant by shame and de- 
spair. For he knew that all there had seen 
that other picture and knew now what he 
had done ; and suddenly with a stifled cry 
he flung himself full length on the floor at 
Osra's feet. 

" Let us wait," said she gently. " He 
will be himself again soon." 

198 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

But the King was too angry to listen. 

" He has made us fools before half 
Europe," he cried angrily, " and he shall 
not live to talk of it. And you have you 
seen the picture yonder?" 

"Yes, I have seen it," said she. " But he 
does not now think that picture like me, but 
this one." And she turned to the gentle- 
men, and desired them to raise Giraldo and 
lay him on a couch, and they obeyed. Then 
she knelt by his head ; and, after a while he 
opened his eyes, seeming sound of sense in 
everything except that he believed she 
loved him, so that he began to whisper to 
her as lovers whisper to their loves, very 
tenderly and low. And the King, with 
his gentlemen, stood a little way off. But 
the Princess said nothing to Giraldo, neither 
refusing his love, nor yet saying what was 
false ; yet she suffered him to talk to her, 
and to reach up his hand and gently touch 
a lock of hair that strayed on her forehead. 
And he, sighing in utter happiness and con- 
tentment, closed his eyes again, and lay 
back very quietly on the couch. 

" Let us go," said she rising. " I will 
send a physician." And she bade one of 
the gentlemen lock the inner room, and give 
her the key, and she and the King and 

The Device of Giraldo the Painter* 199 

they all then departed, and sent his ser- 
vants to tend Giraldo ; and Osra caused the 
King's physician also to be summoned. 
But Giraldo did no more than linger some 
few days alive ; for the most of them he 
was in a high fever, his brain being wild ; 
and he raved about the Princess, sometimes 
railing at her, sometimes praising her ; yet 
once or twice he awoke, calm and happy as 
he had been when she knelt by him, and 
having for his only delusion the thought 
that she still knelt there and was breathing 
words of love into his ear. And in this last 
merciful error, in respect of which the 
physicians humoured him, one day a week 
later, he passed away and was at peace. 

Then the Princess came, attended by one 
gentleman in whom she placed confidence, 
and she destroyed the evil picture that 
Giraldo had painted, and having caused a 
fire to be made, burnt up the pieces of it, and 
all the ruins of the pictures that Giraldo had 
destroyed. But that on which he had last 
worked so happily, and with such a triumph 
of art, she carried with her to the palace ; 
and presently she caused copies to be made 
of it, and sent one to each of the Princes by 
whom Giraldo had been commanded to 
paint her picture, and with it the money he 


The Heart of Princess Osra* 

had received, the whole of which was found 
untouched in a cabinet in his house. But 
the picture itself she hung in her own 
chamber, and would often look at it, feel- 
ing great sorrow for the fate of Giraldo the 

Yet King Rudolf could not be prevailed 
upon to pity the young man, saying that for 
his part he should have to be mad before 
the love of a woman should drive him mad ; 
and he cursed Giraldo for an insolent knave, 
declaring that he did well to die of his own 
accord. And because M. de Merosailles 
had gallantly defended his sister's beauty 
in three duels, he sent him by the hand of 
a high officer his Order of the Red Rose, 
which M. de Mdrosailles wore with great 
pride at the Court of Versailles. 

But when the copies of the last picture 
reached the Courts to which they were ad- 
dressed, together with the money and a 
brief history of Giraldo's mad doings, the 
Princes turned their thoughts again to the 
matter of the alliance, and several embas- 
sies set out for Strelsau ; so that Princess 
Osra said, with a smile that was half-sad, 
half-amused, and very whimsical : 

" I am much troubled by reason of the 
loss of Signer Giraldo my painter." 

The Indifference of the Miller of Hofbati* 

THERE is a swift little river running by 
the village of Hofbau, and on the river is a 
mill, kept in the days of King Rudolf III. 
by a sturdy fellow who lived there all 
alone ; the King knew him, having alighted 
at his house for a draught of beer as he 
rode hunting, and it was of him the King 
spoke when he said to the Queen, "There 
is, I believe, but one man in the country 
whom Osra could not move, and he is 
the Miller of Hofbau." But although he 
addressed the Queen, it was his sister at 
whom he aimed his speech. The Princess 
herself was sitting by, and when she heard 
the King she said : 

" In truth I do not desire to move any 
man. What but trouble comes of it? Yet 
who is this miller ?" 

The King told her where the miller might 
be found, and he added: "If you convert 

202 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

him to the love of women you shall have 
the finest bracelet in Strelsau." 

" There is nothing, sire, so remote from 
my thoughts or desires as to convert your 
miller," said Osra scornfully. 

In this, at the moment, she spoke truth- 
fully ; but being left alone for some days 
at the Castle of Zenda, which is but a few 
miles from Hofbau, she found the time 
hang very heavy on her hands ; indeed she 
did not know what to do with herself for 
weariness ; and for this reason, and none 
other at all, one day she ordered her horse 
and rode off with a single groom into the 
forest. Coming, as the morning went on, to 
a wide road, she asked the groom where it 
led. " To Hofbau, madame," he answered. 
" It is not more than a mile further on." 
Osra waited a few moments, then she 
said : " I will ride on and see the village, for 
I' have been told that it is pretty. Wait 
here till I return," and she rode on, smiling 
a little, and with a delicate tint of colour in 
her cheeks. 

Before long she saw the river and the 
mill on the river ; and, coming to the mill, 
she saw the miller sitting before his door, 
smoking a long pipe. She called out to 
him, asking him to sell her a glass of milk. 

The Indifference of the Miller of Hofbau* 203 

" You can have it for the asking," said 
the miller. He was a good-looking fair fel- 
low, and wore a scarlet cap. " There is a 
pail of it just inside the door behind me." 
Yet he did not rise, but lay there, lolling 
luxuriously in the sun. For he did not 
know Osra, never having been to Strelsau 
in his life, and to Zenda three or four times 
only, and that when the Princess was not 
there. Moreover though this, as must be 
allowed, is not to the purpose he had 
sworn never again to go so far afield. 

Being answered in this manner, and at 
the same time desiring the milk, the Prin- 
cess had no choice but to dismount. 

This she did, and passed by the miller, 
pausing a moment to look at him with bright 
curious eyes, that flashed from under the 
brim of her wide-rimmed feathered hat ; but 
the miller blinked lazily up at the sun and 
took no heed of her. 

Osra passed on, found the pail, poured 
out a cup of milk, and drank it. Then, re- 
filling the cup, she carried it to the miller. 

" Will you not have some ? " said she 
with a smile. 

" I was too lazy to get it," said the 
miller ; and he held out his hand, but did 
not otherwise change his position. 

204 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

Osra's brow puckered and her cheek 
flushed as she bent down, holding the cup 
of milk so that the miller could reach it. 
He took and drained it, gave it back to her, 
and put his pipe in his mouth again. Osra 
sat down by him and watched him. He 
puffed and blinked away, never so much as 
looking at her. 

" What have you for dinner?" asked 
she presently. 

11 A piece of cold pie," said he. " There's 
enough for two, if you're hungry." 

" Would you not like it better hot ?" 

" Oh, aye ; but I cannot weary myself 
with heating it." 

"Til heat it," said the Princess; and, 
rising, she went into the house, and made 
up the fire, which was almost burnt out ; 
then she heated the pie, and set the room 
in order, and laid the table, and drew a 
large jug of beer from the cask. Next she 
placed an arm-chair ready for the miller, 
and put the jug by it ; then she filled the 
pipe from the bowl of tobacco and set a 
cushion in the chair. All this while she 
hummed a tune, and from time to time 
smiled gayly. Lastly, she arranged a chair 
by the elbow of the miller's chair ; then she 
went out and told him that his dinner was 


The Indifference of the Miller of Hoflbau. 205 

ready ; and he stumbled to his feet with a 
sigh of laziness, and walked before her into 
the house. 

" May I come ? " cried she. 

" Aye, there is enough for two," said the 
Miller of Hofbau without looking round. 

So she followed him in. He sank into the 
arm-chair and sat there, for a moment sur- 
veying the room which was so neat, and 
the table so daintily laid, and the pie so 
steaming hot. And he sighed, saying : 

" It was like this before poor mother 
died." And he fell to on a great portion 
of pie with which Osra piled his plate. 

When he had finished eating which 
thing did not happen for some time she 
held the jug while he took a long draught ; 
then she brought a coal in the tongs and 
held it while he lit his pipe from it ; then 
she sat down by him. For several moments 
he puffed, and then at last he turned his 
head and looked at Princess Osra; she 
drooped her long lashes and cast down her 
eyes ; next she lifted her eyes and glanced 
for an instant at the miller ; and, finally, she 
dropped her eyes again and murmured 
shyly: "What is it, sir? Why do you 
look at me ?" 

"You seem to be a handy wench," ob- 

206 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

served the miller. " The pie was steaming 
hot and yet not burnt, the beer was well 
frothed but not shaken nor thickened, and 
the pipe draws well. Where does your 
father dwell?" 

" He is dead, sir," said Princess Osra very 

"And your mother?" pursued the miller. 

" She also is dead." 

" There is small harm in that," said the 
miller thoughtfully ; and Osra turned away 
her head to hide her smile. 

" Are you not very lonely, living here 
all by yourself?" she asked a moment 

" Indeed I have to do everything for 
myself," said the miller sadly. 

" And there is nobody to to care for 

" No, nor to look after my comfort," said 
the miller. " Have you any kindred ?" 

" I have two brothers, sir ; but they are 
married now, and have no need of me." 

The miller laid down his pipe and, set- 
ting his elbow on the table, faced Princess 

" H'm ! " said he. " And is it likely you 
will ride this way again ? " 

" I may chance to do so," said Osra, 

The Indifference of the Miller of Hofbau. 207 

and now there was a glance of malicious 
triumph in her eyes ; she was thinking 
already how the bracelet would look on her 

" Ah ! " said the miller. And after a 
pause he added : " If you do, come half an 
hour before dinner, and you can lend a 
hand in making it ready. Where did you 
get those fine clothes ? " 

" My mistress gave them to me," an- 
swered Osra. " She has cast them off." 

"And that horse you rode?" 

" It is my master's ; I have it to ride 
when I do my mistress's errands." 

" Will your master and mistress do any- 
thing for you if you leave your service ?" 

" I have been promised a present if 
said Osra, and she paused in apparent 

" Aye," said the miller, nodding saga- 
ciously, as he rose slowly from the arm- 
chair. " Will you be this way again in a 
week or so ? " he asked. 

" I think it is very likely," answered 
the Princess Osra. 

"Then look in," said the miller. " About 
half an hour before dinner." He nodded 
his head again very significantly at Osra, 
and, turning away, went to his work, as a 

208 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

man goes who would far rather sit still in 
the sun. But just as he reached the door 
he turned his head and asked : " Are you 

" I am strong enough, I think," said she. 

" A sack of flour is a heavy thing for a 
man to lift by himself," remarked the 
miller, and with that he passed through the 
door and left her alone. 

Then she cleared the table, put the pie 
or what was left in the larder, set the 
room in order, refilled the pipe, stood the 
jug handy by the cask, and, with a look of 
great satisfaction on her face, tripped out 
to where her horse was, mounted, and rode 

The next week and the interval had 
seemed long to her, and no less long to the 
Miller of Hofbau she came again, and so 
the week after ; and in the week following 
that she came twice ; and on the second of 
these two days, after dinner, the miller did 
not go off to his sacks, but he followed her 
out of the house, pipe in hand, when she 
went to mount her horse, and as she was 
about to mount, he said : 

"Indeed you're a handy wench." 

" You say much of my hands, but noth- 
ing of my face," remarked Princess Osra. 

The Indifference of the Miller of Hofbau, 209 

" Of your face ? " repeated the miller in 
some surprise. " What should I say of 
your face ? " 

" Well, is it not a comely face ? " said 
Osra, turning towards him that he might 
be better able to answer her question. 

The miller regarded her for some min- 
utes, then a slow smile spread on his lips. 

"Oh, aye, it is well enough," said he. 
Then he laid a floury finger on her arm as 
he continued : " If you come next week 
why, it is but half a mile to church ! I'll 
have the cart ready and bid the priest be 
there. What's your name ?" For he had 
not hitherto asked Osra's name. 

" Rosa Schwartz," said she, and her face 
was all alight with triumph and amuse- 

" Yes, I shall be very comfortable with 
you," said the miller. " We will be at the 
church an hour before noon, so that there 
may be time afterwards for the preparation 
of dinner." 

" That will be on Thursday in next 
week ? " asked Osra. 

" Aye, on Thursday," said the miller, and 
he turned on his heel. But in a minute he 
turned again, saying : " Give me a kiss, 
then, since we are to be man and wife," 

210 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

and he came slowly towards her, holding 
his arms open. 

" Nay, the kiss will wait till Thursday. 
Maybe there will be less flour on your face 
then." And with a laugh she dived under 
his outstretched arms and made her escape. 
The day being warm, the miller did not 
put himself out by pursuing her, but stood 
where he was, with a broad comfortable 
smile on his lips ; and so he watched her 
ride away. 

Now, as she rode, the Princess was much 
occupied in thinking of the Miller of Hof- 
bau. Elated and triumphant as she was at 
having won from him a promise of marriage, 
she was yet somewhat vexed that he had 
not shown a more passionate affection, and 
this thought clouded her brow for full half 
an hour. But then her face cleared. "Still 
waters run deep," she said to herself. " He 
is not like these Court gallants, who have 
learnt to make love as soon as they learn 
to walk, and cannot talk to a woman with- 
out bowing and grimacing and sighing at 
every word. The miller has a deep nature, 
and surely I have won his heart, or he 
would not take me for his wife. Poor 
miller ! I pray that he may not grieve very 
bitterly when I make the truth known to 

The Indifference of the Miller of Hofbau* 211 

him!" And then, at the thought of the 
grief of the miller, her face was again 
clouded ; but it again cleared when she con- 
sidered of the great triumph that she had 
won, and how she would enjoy a victory over 
the King, and would have the finest bracelet 
in all Strelsau as a gift from him. Thus 
she arrived at the Castle in the height of 
merriment and exultation. 

It chanced that the King came to Zenda 
that night, to spend a week hunting the 
boar in the forest ; and when Osra, all 
blushing and laughing, told him of her suc- 
cess with the Miller of Hofbau he was 
greatly amused, and swore that no such 
girl ever lived, and applauded her, renew- 
ing his promise of the bracelet ; and he de- 
clared that he would himself ride with her 
to Hofbau on the wedding-day, and see how 
the poor miller bore his disappointment. 

"Indeed I do not see how you are going 
to excuse yourself to him/' he laughed. 

" A purse of five hundred crowns must 
do that ofrice for me," said she. 

" What, will crowns patch a broken 

" His broken heart must heal itself, as 
men's broken hearts do, brother ! " 

" In truth, sister, I have known them 

2i2 The Heart of Princess Osra, 

cure themselves. Let us hope it may be so 
with the Miller of Hofbau." 

" At the worst I have revenged the 
wrongs of women on him. It is unendur- 
able that any man should scorn us, be he 
king or miller." 

" It is indeed very proper that he should 
suffer great pangs," said the King, " in 
spite of his plaster of crowns. I shall love 
to see the stolid fellow sighing and moaning 
like a lovesick courtier." 

So they agreed to ride together to the 
miller's at Hofbau on the day appointed for 
the wedding, and both of them waited with 
impatience for it. But, with the bad luck 
that pursues mortals (even though they be 
princes) in this poor world, it happened 
that early in the morning of the Thursday 
a great officer came riding post-haste from 
Strelsau to take the King's commands on 
high matters of State ; and, although Ru- 
dolf was sorely put out of temper by this 
untoward interruption, yet he had no alter- 
native but to transact the business before he 
rode to the miller's at Hofbau. So he sat 
fretting and fuming, while long papers were 
readfto him, and the Princess walked up 
and down the length of the drawbridge, 
fretting also ; for before the King could 

The Indifference of the Miller of Hoflbau. 213 

escape from his affairs, the hour of the wed- 
ding was already come, and doubtless the 
Miller of Hofbau was waiting with the priest 
in the church. Indeed it was one o'clock 
or more before Osra and the King set out 
from Zenda, and they had then a ride of an 
hour and a half ; and all this when Osra 
should have been at the miller's at eleven 

" Poor man, he will be half mad with 
waiting and with anxiety for me ! " cried 
Osra. " I must give him another hundred 
crowns on account of it." And she added, 
after a pause, " I pray he may not take it 
too much to heart, Rudolf." 

" We must try to prevent him doing him- 
self any mischief in his despair," smiled the 

" Indeed it is a serious matter," pouted 
the Princess, who thought the King's smile 
out of place. 

" It was not so when you began it," said 
her brother ; and Osra was silent. 

Then about half-past two they came in 
sight of the mill. Now the King dismounted, 
while they were still several hundred yards 
away, and tied his horse to a tree in a clump 
by the wayside ; and when they came near 
to the mill he made a circuit and approached 

214 The Heart of Princess Osra, 

from the side, and, creeping along to the 
house, hid himself behind a large water-butt, 
which stood just under the window ; from 
that point he could hear what passed inside 
the house, and could see if he stood erect. 
But Osra rode up to the front of the mill, as 
she had been accustomed, and, getting down 
from her horse, walked up to the door. The 
miller's cart stood in the yard of the mill, 
but the horse was not in the shafts, and 
neither the miller nor anybody else was to 
be seen about ; and the door of the house 
was shut. 

" He must be waiting at the church," said 
she. " But I will look in and make sure. 
Indeed I feel half afraid to meet him." 
And her heart was beating rapidly and her 
face was rather pale as she walked up to 
the door ; for she feared what the miller 
might do in the passion of his disappoint- 
ment at learning who she was and that she 
could not be his wife. " I hope*the six hun- 
dred crowns will comfort him," she said, as 
she laid her hand on the latch of the door ; 
and she sighed, her heart being heavy for 
the miller, and, maybe a little heavy also 
for the guilt that lay on her conscience for 
having deceived him. 

Now when she lifted the latch and 



HOFBAU." Page 215. 

The Indifference of the Miller of Hofbau. 215 

opened the door, the sight that met her 
eyes was this : The table was strewn with 
the remains of a brave dinner ; two burnt- 
out pipes lay beside the plates. A smaller 
table was in front of the fire ; on it stood a 
very large jug, entirely empty, but bearing 
signs of having Jbeen full not so long ago ; 
and on either side of it, each in an arm- 
chair, sat the priest of the village and the 
Miller of Hofbau ; both of them were sleep- 
ing very contentedly, and snoring some- 
what as they slept. The Princess, smitten 
by remorse at the spectacle, said softly : 

" Poor fellow, he grew weary of waiting, 
and hungry, and was compelled to take his 
dinner ; and, like the kind man he is, he has 
entertained the priest, and kept him here, so 
that no time should be lost when I arrived. 
Indeed I am afraid the poor man loves me 
very much. Well, miller, or lord, or prince 
they are all the same. Heigh-ho ! Why 
did I deceive him ?" And she walked up 
to the miller's chair, leant over the back 
of it, and lightly touched his red cap with 
her fingers. He put up his hand and 
brushed with it, as though he brushed away 
a fly, but gave no other sign of awakening. 

The King called softly from behind the 
water-butt under the window : 

2i6 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

" Is he there, Osra ? Is he there ? " 

" The poor man has fallen asleep in weari- 
ness," she answered. " But the priest is 
here, ready to marry us. Oh, Rudolf, I am 
so sorry for what I have done ! " 

" Girls are always mighty sorry, after it is 
done," remarked the King. " Wake him up, 

At this moment the Miller of Hofbau sat 
up in his chair and gave a great sneeze ; and 
by this sound the priest also was awakened. 
Osra came forward and stood between 
them. The miller looked at her, and tilted 
his red cap forward in order that he might 
scratch his head. Then he looked across 
to the priest, and said : 

" It is she, Father. She has come." 

The priest rubbed his hands together, 
and smiled uncomfortably. 

" We waited two hours," said he, glancing 
at the clock. " See, it is three o'clock now." 

" I am sorry you waited so long," said 
Osra, "but I could not come before. And 

and now that I am come, I cannot " 

But here she paused in great distress and 
confusion, not knowing how to break her 
sad tidings to the Miller of Hofbau. 

The miller drew his legs up under his 
chair, and regarded Osra with a grave air. 

The Indifference of the Miller of Hof bau. 217 

" You should have been here at eleven," 
said he. " I went to the church at eleven, 
and the priest was there, and my cousin 
Hans to act as my groom, and my cousin 
Gertrude to be your maid. There we 
waited hard on two hours. But you did not 

" I am very sorry, "pleaded Princess Osra. 
The King laughed low to himself behind the 
water-butt, being much amused at her dis- 
tress and her humility. 

" And now that you are come," pursued 
the miller, scratching his head again, " I do 
not know what we are to do." He looked 
again at the priest, seeking counsel. 

At this the Princess Osra, thinking that 
an opportunity had come, took the purse of 
six hundred crowns from under her cloak, 
and laid it on the table. 

" What is this ? " said the miller, for the 
first time showing some eagerness. 

" They are for you," said Osra as she 
watched him while he unfastened the purse. 
Then he poured the crowns out on the table, 
and counted them one by one, till he had 
told all the six hundred. Then he raised 
his hands above his head, let them fall again, 
sighed slightly, and looked across at the 

218 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

" I warned you not to be in such a hurry, 
friend miller," remarked the priest. 

" I waited two hours," said the miller 
plaintively, " and you know that she is a 
handy wench, and very fond of me." 

He began to gather up the crowns and 
return them to the purse. 

" I trust I am a handy wench," said Osra, 
smiling, yet still very nervous, " and, in- 
deed, I have a great regard for the miller, 
but " 

" Nay, he does not mean you," inter- 
rupted the priest. 

"Six hundred," sighed the miller, "and 
Gertrude has but two hundred ! Still she 
is a handy wench and very sturdy. I doubt 
if you could lift a sack by yourself, as she 
can." And he looked doubtfully at Osra's 
slender figure. 

" I do not know why you talk of Ger- 
trude," said the Princess petulantly. " What 
is Gertrude to me ? " 

"Why, I take it that she is nothing at 
all to you," answered the priest, folding his 
hands on his lap and smiling placidly. 
" Still, for my part, I bade him wait a little 

" I waited two hours," said the miller. 
" And Gertrude urged me, saying that you 

The Indifference of the Miller of Hofbau* 219 

would not come, and that she would look 
after me better than you, being one of the 
family. And she said it was hard that 
she should have no husband, while her own 
cousin married a stranger. And since it 
was all the same to me, provided I got a 
handy and sturdy wench " 

"What?" cried the Princess Osra ; and 
the King was so interested that he rose up 
from behind the water-butt, and, leaning his 
elbows on the window-sill, looked in and 
saw all that happened. 

" It being," pursued the Miller of Hof- 
bau, "all the same to me, so that I got 
what I wanted, why, when you did not 
come " 

" He married his cousin," said the priest. 

A sudden roar of laughter came from 
the window. All three turned round, but 
the King ducked his head and crouched 
again behind the water-butt before they 
saw him. 

" Who was that ?" cried the priest. 

" A lad that came to hold my horse," an- 
swered Osra hastily, and then she turned 
fiercely on the miller. 

" And that," she said, " was all you 
wanted ! I thought you loved me." 

" Aye, I liked you very well," said the 

220 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

miller. " You are a handy " A stamp 

of her foot drowned the rest. " But you 
should have come in time," he went on. 

" And this Gertrude is she pretty ? " 
demanded Osra. 

" Gertrude is well enough," said the mil- 
ler. " But she has only two hundred 
crowns." And he put the purse, now 
full again, on the table with a resigned 

" And you shall have no more," cried 
Osra, snatching up her purse in great rage. 
" And you and Gertrude may " 

" What of Gertrude ? " came at this mo- 
ment from the door of the room where the 
sacks were. The Princess turned round 
swift as the wind, and she saw in the door- 
way a short and very broad girl, with a very 
wide face and straggling hair ; the girl's 
nose was very flat, and her eyes were small ; 
but her great mouth smiled good-humour- 
edly and, as the Princess looked, she let 
slip to the ground a sack of flour that she 
had been carrying on her sturdy back. 

" Aye, Gertrude is well enough," said the 
miller, looking at her contentedly. " She is 
very strong and willing." 

Then, while Gertrude stood wondering 
and staring with wide eyes in the doorway, 

The Indifference of the Miller of Hofbau. 221 

the Princess swept up to the miller, and 
leant over him, and cried : 

" Look at my face, look at my face ! 
What manner of face is it ? " 

" It is well enough," said the miller. 
" But Gertrude is 

There was a crash on the floor, and 
the six hundred crowns rolled out of the 
purse, and scattered, spinning and rolling 
hither and thither all over the floor and 
into every corner of the room. And Prin- 
cess Osra cried : " Have you no eyes ? " 
and then she turned away ; for her lip was 
quivering, and she would not have the miller 
see it. But she turned from the miller 
only to face Gertrude his wife ; Gertrude's 
small eyes brightened with sudden intelli- 

" Ah, you're the other girl 1 " said Ger- 
trude with much amusement. " And was 
that your dowry ? It is large ! I am glad 
you did not come in time. But see, I'll pick 
it up for you. Nay, don't take on. I dare 
say you'll find another husband." 

She passed by Osra, patting her on the 
shoulder kindly as she went, and then fell on 
her knees and began to pick up the crowns, 
crawling after them all over the floor, and 
holding up her apron to receive the recov- 

222 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

ered treasure. And Princess Osra stood 
looking at her. 

" Aye, you'll find another husband," 
nodded the priest encouragingly. 

"Aye, you'll find another husband," as- 
sented the miller placidly. " And just as 
one girl is pretty nearly as good as another 
if she is handy and sturdy so one hus- 
band is as good as another, if he can keep 
a house over you." 

Princess Osra said nothing. But Ger- 
trude, having picked up the crowns, came 
to her with a full apron, saying : 

" Hold your lap, and I'll pour them in. 
They'll get you a good husband." 

Princess Osra suddenly bent and kissed 
Gertrude's cheek, and she said gently : 

" I hope you have got a good husband, 
my dear ; but let him do some work for 
himself. And keep the six hundred crowns 
as a present from me, for he will value you 
more with eight hundred than with two." 

The eyes of all three were fixed on her 
in wonder and almost in fear, for her tone 
and manner were now different. Then she 
turned to the miller, and she bit her lip 
and dashed her hand across her eyes, and 
she said : 

" And you, miller, are the only sensible 

The Indifference of the Miller of Hofbau. 223 

man I have found in all the kingdom. 
Therefore good luck and a good wife to 
you." And she gave a little short laugh, 
and turned and walked out of the cottage, 
leaving them all spellbound in wonder. 
But the miller rose from his chair and ran 
to the door, and when he reached it the 
King was just lifting Osra on to her horse ; 
the miller knew the King, and stood there 
with eyes wide and cheeks bulged in won- 
der ; but he could gasp out no more than 
"The King, the King!" before Rudolf and 
Osra were far away. And they could, 
none of them, neither the miller, nor Ger- 
trude, nor the priest, tell what the matter 
meant, until one day King Rudolf rode 
again to the mill at Hofbau, and, having 
sent for the priest, told the three enough of 
the truth, saying that the affair was the out- 
come of a jest at Court ; and he made each 
of them a handsome present, and vowed 
them to secrecy by their fealty and attach- 
ment to his person and his honour. 

" So she would not have married me, 
anyhow ? " asked the miller. 

"I think not, friend," answered Rudolf 
with a laugh. 

" Then we are but quits and all is well. 
Gertrude, the jug, my lass ! " 

224 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

And so, indeed, it seemed to the King 
that they were but quits, and so he said to 
the Princess Osra. But he declared that 
she had so far prevailed with the miller 
as to make him desire marriage as an ex- 
cellent and useful thing in itself, although 
she had not persuaded him that it was of 
great moment whom a man married. There- 
fore he was very anxious to give her the 
bracelet which he had promised, and more 
than once prayed her to accept it. But 
Osra saw the laugh that lurked in the King's 
eye, and would not consent to have the 
bracelet, and for a long while she did not 
love to speak of the Miller of Hofbau. 
Yet once, when the King on some occasion 
cried out very impatiently that all men were 
fools, she said : 

" Sire, you forget the Miller of Hofbau." 
And she blushed, and laughed, and turned 
her eyes away. 

One other thing she did which very 
greatly puzzled Queen Margaret, and all 
the ladies of the Court, and all the waiting- 
women, and all the serving-maids, and, in 
fine, every person high or low who saw or 
heard of it, except the King only. For in 
winter evenings she took her scissors and 
her needle, and she cut strips of ribbon, 

The Indifference of the Miller of Hoflbau. 225 

each a foot long and a couple of inches 
broad ; on each of them she embroidered 
a motto or legend ; and she affixed the 
ribbons bearing the legend to each and 
every one of the mirrors in each of her 
chambers at Strelsau, at Zenda, and at the 
other royal residences. And her waiting- 
women noticed that, whenever she had 
looked in the mirror and smiled at her own 
image or shewn other signs of pleasure in 
it, she would then cast her eyes up to the 
legend, and seem to read it, and blush a 
little, and laugh a little, and sigh a little ; 
the reason for which things they could by 
no means understand. 

For the legend was but this : 

"Remember the Miller of Hofbau" 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenbet g. 

IT was the spring of the year when 
Ludwig, Prince of Glottenberg, came court- 
ing the Princess Osra ; for his father had 
sought the most beautiful lady of a Royal 
House in Europe, and had found none equal 
to Osra. Therefore the Prince came to 
Strelsau with a great retinue, and was 
lodged in the White Palace, which stood on 
the outskirts of the city, where the public 
gardens now are (for the Palace itself was 
sacked and burnt by the people in the ris- 
ing of 1848). Here Ludwig stayed many 
days, coming every day to the King's palace 
to pay his respects to the King and Queen, 
and to make his court to the Princess. 
King Rudolf had received him with the 
utmost friendship, and was, for reasons of 
State then of great moment but now of 
vanished interest, as eager for the match as 
was the King of Glottenberg himself ; and 
he grew very impatient with his sister when 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg* 227 

she hesitated to accept Ludwig's hand, al- 
leging that she felt for him no more than a 
kindly esteem, and, what was as much to 
the purpose, that he felt no more for her. 
For although the Prince possessed most 
courteous and winning manners, and was 
very accomplished both in learning and in 
exercises, yet he was a grave and pensive 
young man, rather stately than jovial, and 
seemed in the Princess's eyes (accustomed 
as they were to catch and check ardent 
glances), to perform his wooing more as a 
duty of his station than on the impulse of 
any passion. Finding in herself also no 
such sweet ashamed emotions as had before 
now invaded her heart on account of lesser 
men, she grew grave and troubled. At last 
she said to the King : 

" Brother, is this love ? For I had as lief 
he were away as here, and when he is here 
he kisses my hand as though it were a 
statue's hand ; and and I feel as though it 
were. They say you know what love is. 
Is this love ? " 

" There are many forms of love," smiled 
the King. " This is such love as a Prince 
and a Princess may most properly feel." 

" I do not call it love at all," said Osra 
with a pout. 

228 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

When Prince Ludwig came next day to 
see her and told her with grave courtesy 
that his pleasure lay in doing her will, she 
broke out : 

" I had rather it lay in watching my face," 
and then, ashamed, she turned away from 

He seemed grieved and hurt at her 
words ; it was with a sigh that he said : 
" My life shall be spent in giving you joy." 

She turned round on him with flushed 
cheek and trembling lips : 

"Yes, but I had rather it were spent in 
getting joy from me." 

He cast down his eyes a moment, and 
then, taking her hand, kissed it. But she 
drew it away sharply. So that afternoon 
they parted, he back to his Palace, she to 
her chamber, where she sat, asking again : 
" Is this love ? " and crying : " He does not 
know love," and pausing, now and again, 
before her mirror, to ask her pictured 
face why it would not unlock the door of 

On another day she would be merry, or 
feign merriment, rallying him on his sombre 
air and formal compliments, professing that 
for her part she soon grew weary of such 
wooing, and loved to be easy and merry ; 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg. 229 

for thus she hoped to sting him, so that he 
would either disclose more warmth or alto- 
gether forsake his pursuit. But he offered 
many apologies, blaming nature that had 
made him grave, but assuring her of his 
deep affection and respect. 

" Affection and respect ! " murmured Osra 
with a little toss of her head. " Oh, that I 
had not been born a Princess ! " And yet, 
though she did not love him, she thought 
him a very noble gentleman, and trusted 
to his honour and sincerity in everything. 
Therefore, when he still persisted, and Ru- 
dolf and the Queen urged her, telling her 
(the King mockingly, the Queen with a 
touch of sadness) that she must not look 
to find in the world such love as romantic 
girls dreamt of, at last she yielded ; she 
told her brother that she would marry 
Prince Ludwig ; yet for a little while she 
would not have the news proclaimed. So 
Rudolf went, alone and privately, to the 
White Palace, and said to Ludwig : 

" Cousin, you have won the fairest lady 
in the world. Behold, her brother says 

Prince Ludwig bowed low, and taking 
the King's hand, pressed it, thanking him 
for his help and approval, and expressing 

230 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

himself as most grateful for the boon of the 
Princess's favour. 

" Will you not come with me and find 
her ? " cried the King with a merry look. 

" I have urgent business now," answered 
Ludwig. " Beg the Princess to forgive me. 
This afternoon I will crave the honour of 
waiting on her with my humble gratitude." 

King Rudolf looked at him, a smile curl- 
ing on his lips ; and he said, in one of his 
gusts of impatience : 

"By heaven ! is there another man in the 
world who would talk about gratitude, and 
business, and the afternoon, when Osra of 
Strelsau sat waiting for him ? " 

" I mean no discourtesy," protested Lud- 
wig, taking the King's arm, and glancing at 
him with most friendly eyes. " Indeed, 
dear friend, I am rejoiced and honoured. 
But this business of mine will not wait." 

So the King, frowning and grumbling 
and laughing, went back alone and told the 
Princess that the happy wooer was most 
grateful, and would come after his business 
was transacted that afternoon. But Osra, 
having given her hand, would admit no 
fault in the man she had chosen, and 
thanked the King for the message with 
great dignity. Then the King came to her, 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg;. 231 

and, sitting down by her, stroked her hair, 
saying softly : 

"You have had many lovers, sister Osra, 
and now comes a husband ! " 

"Yes, now a husband," she murmured, 
catching swiftly at his hand ; her voice was 
half caught in a sudden sob. 

" So goes the world our world," said the 
King, knitting his brows and seeming to fall 
for a moment into a sad reverie. 

"I am frightened," she whispered. 
" Should I be frightened if I loved him ? " 

" I have been told so," said the King, 
smiling again. " But the fear has a way 
of being mastered then." And he drew 
her to him, and gave her a hearty brother's 
kiss, telling her to take courage. " You'll 
thaw the fellow yet," said the King, 
" though, I grant you, he is icy enough." 
For the King himself had been by no means 
what he called an icy man. 

But Osra was not satisfied, and sought to 
assuage the pain of her heart by adorning 
herself most carefully for the Prince's com- 
ing, hoping to fire him to love. For she 
thought that if he loved she might, although 
since he did not she could not. And surely 
he did not, or all the tales of love were 
false ! Thus she came to receive him very 

232 The Heart of Princess Osra, 

magnificently arrayed. There was a flush 
on her cheek and an uncertain, expectant, 
fearful look in her eyes ; thus she stood be- 
fore him, as he fell on his knee and kissed 
her hand. Then he rose and declared his 
thanks, and promised his devotion ; but as 
he spoke the flush faded and the light 
died from her eyes ; and when at last he 
drew near to her and offered to kiss her 
cheek, her eyes were dead and her face 
pale and cold as she suffered him to touch 
it. He was content to touch it but once, 
and seemed not to know how cold it 
was ; and so, after more talk of his father's 
pleasure and his pride, he took his leave, 
promising to come again the next day. 
She ran to the window when the door was 
closed on him, and thence watched him 
mount his horse and ride away slowly, with 
his head bent and his eyes downcast ; yet 
he was a noble gentleman, stately and 
handsome, kind and true. The tears came 
suddenly into her eyes and blurred her sight 
as she leant watching from behind the 
hanging curtains of the window. Though 
she dashed them away angrily, they came 
again, and ran down her pale cold cheeks, 
mourning the golden vision that seemed 
gone without fulfilment. 

The Love of the Prince of Gtottenberg. 233 

That evening there came a gentleman 
from the Prince of Glottenberg, carrying 
most humble excuses from his master, who 
(so he said) was prevented from waiting on 
the Princess the next day by a certain very 
urgent affair which took him from Strelsau, 
and would keep him absent from the city 
all day long ; and the gentleman delivered 
to Osra a letter from the Prince, full of 
graceful and profound apologies, and plead- 
ing an engagement that his honour would 
not let him break ; for nothing short of 
that, said he, should have kept him from 
her side. There followed some lover's 
phrases, scantily worded and frigid in an 
assumed passion. But Osra, smiling gra- 
ciously, sent back a message, readily accept- 
ing all that the Prince urged in excuse. 
And she told what had passed to the 
King, with her head high in the air and 
a careless haughtiness, so that even the 
King did not rally her, nor yet venture to 
comfort her, but urged her to spend the 
day in riding with the Queen and him ; 
for they were setting out for Zenda, where 
the King was to hunt in the forest, and she 
could ride some part of the way with them, 
and return in the evening. And she, wish- 
ing that she had sent first to the Prince to 

234 The Heart of Princess Osra, 

bid him not come, agreed to go with her 
brother ; it was better far to go than to wait 
at home for a lover who would not come. 

Thus the next morning they rode out, the 
King and Queen with their retinue, the 
Princess attended by one of her Guard, 
named Christian Hantz, who was greatly 
attached to her and most jealous in praise 
and admiration of her. This fellow had 
taken it on himself to be very angry with 
Prince Ludwig's coldness, but dared say 
nothing of it ; yet, impelled by his anger, 
he had set himself to watch the Prince very 
closely ; and thus he had, as he conceived, 
discovered something which brought a twin- 
kle into his eye and a triumphant smile to 
his lips as he rode behind the Princess. 
Some fifteen miles she accompanied her 
brother, and then, turning with Christian, 
took another way back to the city. Alone 
she rode, her mind full of sad thoughts ; 
while Christian, behind, still wore his mali- 
cious smile. But presently, although she 
had not commanded him, he quickened his 
pace and came up to her side, relying for 
excuse on the favour which she always 
shewed him. 

"Well, Christian," said she, "have you 
something to say to me?" 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg, 235 

For answer he pointed to a small house 
standing among the trees, some way from 
the road, and he said : 

" If I were Ludwigand not Christian, yet 
I would be here where Christian is, and not 
there where Ludwig is," and he pointed 
still at the house. 

She faced round in anger at his daring 
to speak to her of the Prince, but he was a 
bold fellow and would not be silenced 
now that he had begun to speak ; he knew 
also that she would bear much from him. 
So he leant over towards her, saying : 

" By your bounty, madame, I have money, 
and he who has money can get knowledge. 
So I know that the Prince is there. For 
fifty crowns I gained a servant of his, and 
he told me." 

" I do not know why you should spy on 
the Prince," said Osra, " and I do not care 
to know where the Prince is ; " and she 
touched her horse with the spur and can- 
tered forward fast, leaving the little house 
behind. But Christian persisted, partly in 
a foolish grudge against any man who 
should win what was above his reach, partly 
in an honest anger that she, whom he wor- 
shipped, should be treated lightly by an- 
other ; and he forced her to hear what he 

236 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

had learnt from the gossip of the Prince's 
groom, telling it to her in hints and half- 
spoken sentences, yet so plainly that she 
could not miss the gist of it. 

She rode the faster towards Strelsau, at 
first answering nothing; but at last she turned 
on him fiercely, saying that he told a lie, and 
that she knew it was a lie, since she knew 
where the Prince was, and what business had 
taken him away ; and she commanded Chris- 
tian to be silent and to speak neither to her 
nor to any one else of his false suspicions ; 
and she bade him very harshly to fall back 
and ride behind her again, which he did, 
sullen yet satisfied. For he knew that his 
arrow had gone home. On she rode, with 
her cheeks aflame and her heart beating, 
until she came to Strelsau ; having arrived 
at the Palace, she ran to her own bedroom 
and flung herself on the bed. 

Here for an hour she lay ; then, it being 
about six o'clock, she sat up, pushing her 
disordered hair back from her hot aching 
brow. An agony of humiliation had come 
upon her, and a fury of resentment against 
the Prince, whose coldness seemed now to 
need no more explanation. Yet she could 
hardly believe what she had been told of him, 
for though she had not loved him, she had 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg* 237 

accorded to him her full trust. Rising, she 
paced in pain about the room. She could 
not rest ; she cried out in longing that her 
brother were there, to aid her and find out 
the truth for her. But he was away, and 
she had none to whom she could turn. So 
she strove to master her anger and endure 
her suspense till the next day, but they were 
too strong for her, and she cried : 

" I will go myself, I cannot sleep till I 
know. But I cannot go alone. Who will go 
with me ? " But she knew of none, for she 
would not take Christian with her, and she 
shrank from speaking of the matter to any 
gentlemen of the Court. Yet she must 
know. At last she sprang from the chair 
into which she had sunk despondent, ex- 
claiming : 

" He is a gentleman and my friend. He 
will go with me." And she sent hastily for 
the Bishop of Modenstein, who was then in 
Strelsau, bidding him come dressed for rid- 
ing, with a sword, and on the best horse in 
his stables. The Bishop came equipped as 
she bade him, and in very great wonder. 
But when she told what she wanted, and 
what Christian had made known to her, he 
grew grave, saying that they must wait and 
consult the King, when he returned. 

238 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

" I will not wait an hour," she cried. " I 
cannot wait an hour." 

" Then I will ride and bring you word. 
You must not go," he urged. 

" Nay, if I go alone I will go," said she. 
" Yes, I will go, and myself fling his false- 
ness in his teeth." 

Finding her thus resolved, the Bishop 
knew that he could not turn her ; so, leav- 
ing her to prepare herself, he caught Chris- 
tian Hantz, and charged him to bring their 
horses to the most private gate of the palace, 
which opened on a little by-street. Here 
Christian waited for them with the horses, 
and they came presently, the Bishop wear- 
ing a great slouched hat, and swaggering 
like a roystering trooper, while Osra was 
closely veiled. The Bishop again imposed 
secrecy on Christian, and then, they both 
being mounted, said to Osra : " If you will 
then, madame, come," and thus they rode 
secretly out of the city, about seven in the 
evening, the gate-wardens opening the gate 
at sight of the Royal Arms on Osra's ring, 
which she gave to the Bishop in order that 
he might shew it. 

In silence they rode a long way, going 
at a great speed ; Osra's face was set and 
rigid, for she felt now no shame at herself 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg* 239 

for going, nor any fear of what she might 
find, but the injury to her pride swallowed 
every other feeling ; and at last she said, 
in short sharp words, to the Bishop of 
Modenstein, having suddenly thrown the 
veil back from her face : 

" He shall not live if it prove true." 

The Bishop shook his head. His pro- 
fession was peace ; yet his blood also was 
hot against the man who had put a slight 
on Princess Osra. 

" The King must know of it," he said. 

" The King ! The King is not here to- 
night," said Osra ; and she pricked her 
horse and set him at a gallop. The moon, 
breaking suddenly in brightness from be- 
hind a cloud, shewed the Bishop her face. 
Then she put out her hand and caught 
him by the arm, whispering : " Are you my 

" Yes, madame," said he. She knew well 
that he was her friend. 

" Kill him for me, then ; kill him for me." 

" I cannot kill him," said the Bishop. " I 
pray God it may prove untrue." 

" You are not my friend, if you will not 
kill him," said Osra ; and she turned her 
face away and rode yet more quickly. 

At last they came in sight of the little 

240 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

house standing back from the road ; and 
there was a light in one of the upper win- 
dows. The Bishop heard a short gasp 
break from Osra's lips, as she pointed with 
her whip to the window. Now his own 
breath came quick and fast ; he prayed to 
God that he might remember his sacred 
character and his vows, and not be led into 
great and deadly sin, at the bidding of that 
proud and bitter face ; and he clenched his 
left hand and struck his brow with it. 

Thus then they came to the gate of the 
avenue of trees that led to the house. Here, 
having dismounted and tied their horses to 
the gate-post, they stood for an instant, and 
Osra again veiled her face. 

" Let me go alone, madame," he implored. 

" Give me your sword, and I will go 
alone," she answered. 

" Here, then, is the path," said the Bishop, 
and he led the way by the moonlight that 
broke fitfully here and there through the 

" He swore that all his life should be 
mine," she whispered. " Yet I knew that 
he did not love me." 

The Bishop made her no answer ; she 
looked for none and did not know that she 
spoke the bitterness of her heart in words 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg* 241 

which he could hear. He bowed his head 
and prayed again for her and for himself ; 
for he had found his hand gripping the hilt 
of his sword. Thus, side by side now, they 
came to the door of the house, and saw a 
gentleman standing in front of the door, 
still but watchful. Osra knew that he was 
the Prince's Chamberlain. 

When the Chamberlain saw them, he 
started violently and clapped a hand to his 
sword ; but Osra flung her veil on to the 
ground, and the Bishop gripped his arm as 
with a vice. The Chamberlain looked at 
Osra and at the Bishop, and half drew his 

" This matter is too great for you, sir," 
said the Bishop. " It is a quarrel of Princes. 
Stand aside," and before the Chamberlain 
could make up his mind what to do Osra 
had passed by him and the Bishop had fol- 
lowed her. 

Finding themselves in a narrow passage, 
they made out by the dim light of a lamp a 
flight of stairs that rose from the furthest 
end of it. The Bishop tried to pass the 
Princess, but she motioned him back, and 
walked swiftly to the stairs. In silence they 
mounted, till they had reached the top of 
the first stage ; and facing them, eight or 

242 The Heart of Princess Osra, 

ten steps further up, was a door. By the 
door stood a groom ; this was the man who 
had treacherously told Christian of his mas- 
ter's doings ; but when he saw suddenly 
what had come of his disloyal chattering, 
the fellow turned white as a ghost and 
came tottering in stealthy silence down the 
stairs, his finger on his lips. 

Neither of them spoke to him, nor he to 
them. They gave no thought to him, his 
only thought was to escape as soon as he 
might ; so he passed them, and, going on, 
passed also the Chamberlain, who stood 
dazed at the house-door, and so disap- 
peared, intent on saving the life he had 
justly forfeited. Thus the rogue vanished, 
and what became of him none knew or 
cared. He showed his face no more at 
Glottenberg or Strelsau. 

" Hark, there are voices ! " whispered 
Osra to the Bishop, raising her hand above 
her head, as they two stood listening. 

The voices came from the door that faced 
them, the voice of a man and the voice of a 
woman ; Osra's glance at her companion 
told him that she knew as well as he whose 
the man's voice was. 

" It is true, then," she breathed from be- 
tween her teeth. " My God, it is true ! " 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenbergf* 243 

The woman's voice spoke now, but the 
words were not audible. Then came the 
Prince's : 

" For ever, in life or death, apart or to- 
gether, for ever." 

The woman's answer came no more in 
words, but in deep low passionate sobs 
which struck their ears like the distant cry 
of some brute creature in pain that it can- 
not understand. Yet Osra's face was stern 
and cold, and her lips curled scornfully when 
she saw the Bishop's look of pity. 

" Come, let us end it," said she, and with 
a firm step she began to mount the stairs 
that lay between them and the door. 

Yet once again they paused outside the 
door, for it seemed as though the Princess 
could not choose but listen to the passionate 
words of love that pierced her ears like 
knives ; yet they were all sad, speaking of 
renunciation, not of happiness. 

But at last she heard her own name ; 
then with a sudden start she caught the 
Bishop's hand, for she could not listen 
longer. She staggered and reeled as she 
whispered to him : 

" The door, the door, open the door ! " 

The Bishop, his right hand being across 
his body and resting on the hilt of his 

244 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

sword, laid his left upon the handle of the 
door, and turned it. Then he flung the 
door open wide ; at that instant Osra 
sprang past him, her eyes gleaming like 
flames from her dead white face. And she 
stood rigid on the threshold of the room, 
with the Bishop by her side. 

In the middle of the room stood the 
Prince of Glottenberg ; strained in a close 
embrace, clinging to him, supported by his 
arms, with head buried in his breast, was a 
girl of slight and slender figure, graceful 
though not tall ; her body was still shaken 
by continual struggling sobs. The Prince 
held her there as though against the world, 
but raised his head and looked at the in- 
truders with a grave sad air. There was 
no shame on his face, and hardly surprise. 
Presently he took one arm from about the 
lady, and, raising it, motioned to them to 
be still. Osra took one step forward to- 
wards where the pair stood ; the Bishop 
caught her sleeve, but she shook him off. 
The lady looked up into the Prince's face ; 
with a sudden startled cry she clutched 
him closer, and turned a terrified face over 
her shoulder. Then she moaned in great 
fear, and, reeling, fell against the Prince ; 
she would have sunk to the ground if he 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg* 245 

had not upheld her, and her eyes closed 
and her lip dropped, as she swooned away. 
But the Princess smiled, and, drawing her- 
self to her full height, stood watching 
while Ludwig bore the lady to a couch 
and laid her there. Then, when he came 
back and faced her, she asked coldly and 
slowly : 

" Who is this woman, sir ? Or is she one 
of those who have no names ? " 

The Prince sprang forward, a sudden 
anger in his eyes ; he raised his hand as if 
he would have pressed it across her scorn- 
ful mouth and kept back her bitter words. 
But she did not flinch ; pointing at him 
with her finger, she cried to the Bishop in 
a ringing voice : 

" Kill him, my lord, kill him." 

And the sword of the Bishop of Moden- 
stein was half way out of the scabbard. 

" I would to God, my lord," said the 
Prince in low sad tones, "that God would 
suffer you to kill me and me to take death 
at your hands. But neither for you nor for 
me is the blow lawful. Let me speak to 
the Princess." 

The Bishop still grasped his sword ; for 
Osra's face and hand still commanded him. 
But at the instant of his hesitation, while 

246 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

the temptation was hot on him, there came 
from the couch where the lady lay a low 
moan of great pain. She flung her arms 
out and turned, groaning again, on her 
back and her head lay hanging over the 
side of the couch. The Bishop's eyes met 
Ludwig's, and with a " God forgive me ! " 
he let the sword slip back, and, springing 
across the room, fell on his knees beside 
the couch. He broke the gold chain round 
his neck and grasped the crucifix which it 
carried in one hand, while with the other 
he raised the lady's head, praying her to 
open her eyes, before whose closed lids he 
held the sacred image ; and he, who had 
come so near to great sin, now prayed 
softly but fervently for her life and God's 
pity on her ; for the frailty her slight form 
showed could not withstand the shock of 
this trial. 

" Who is she ? " asked the Princess. 

But Ludwig's eyes had wandered back to 
the couch, and he answered only : 

" My God, it will kill her." 

" I care not," said Osra. But then came 
another low moan. " I care not," said the 
Princess again. " Ah, she is in great 
suffering ! " And her eyes followed the 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg, 247 

There was silence, save for the lady's low 
moans and the whispered prayers of the 
Bishop of Modenstein. But the lady 
opened her eyes, and in an instant, answer- 
ing the summons, the Prince was by her 
side, kneeling and holding her hand very 
tenderly ; and he met a glance from the 
Bishop across her prostrate body. The 
Prince bowed his head and one sob burst 
from him. 

" Leave me alone with her for a little, 
sir," said the Bishop, and the Prince, obey- 
ing, rose and withdrew into the bay of the 
window, while Osra stood alone near the 
door by which she had entered. 

A few minutes passed, then Osra saw the 
Prince return to where the lady was and 
kneel again beside her ; and she saw that 
the Bishop was preparing to perform his 
most sacred and sublime office ; the lady's 
eyes dwelt on him now in peace and rest- 
fulness, and she held Prince Ludwig's hand 
in her small hand. But Osra would not 
kneel ; she stood upright, still and cold, as 
though she neither saw nor heard anything 
of what passed ; she would not pity nor 
forgive the woman, even if, as they seemed 
to think, she lay dying. But she spoke 
once, asking in a harsh voice : 

248 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

" Is there no physician in the house or 

" None, madame," said the Prince. 

The Bishop began the office, and Osra 
stood, dimly hearing the words of comfort, 
peace, and hope, dimly seeing the smile on 
the lady's face ; for gradually her eyes 
clouded with tears. Now her ears seemed 
to hear nothing save the sad and piteous 
sobs that had shaken the girl as she hung 
about Ludwig's neck. But she strove to 
drive away her softer thoughts, fanning her 
fury when it burnt low, and telling herself 
again of the insult that she had suffered. 
Thus she rested till the Bishop had per- 
formed the office. But when he had finished 
it, he rose from his knees and came to 
where Osra was. 

" It was your duty," she said, " but it is 
none of mine." 

" She will not live an hour," said he. 
" For she had an affection of the heart, and 
this shock has killed her. Indeed I think 
she was half dead for grief before we came." 

" Who is she ? " broke again from Osra's 

" Come and hear," said he, and she fol- 
lowed him obediently, yet unwillingly, to 
the couch, and looked down at the lady. 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg. 249 

The lady looked at her with wondering 
eyes, and then she smiled faintly, pressing 
the Prince's hand, and whispering : 

"Yet she is so beautiful." And she 
seemed now wonderfully happy, so that they 
three all watched her and were envious, 
although they were to live and she to die. 

" Now God pardon her sin ! " said the 
Princess Osra suddenly, and she fell on her 
knees beside the couch, crying : " Surely 
God has pardoned her ! " 

" Sin she has none, save what clings even 
to the purest in this world," said the Bis- 
hop. " For what she has said to me I know 
to be true." 

Osra answered nothing, but gazed in 
questioning at the Prince, and he, still hold- 
ing the lady's hand, began to speak in a 
gentle voice : 

" Do not ask her name, madame. But 
from the first hour that we knew the mean- 
ing of love we have loved one another. And 
had the issue rested in my hands, I would 
have thrown to the winds all that kept me 
from her. I remember when first I met 
her ah, my sweet, do you remember ? 
From that day to this in soul she has been 
mine, and I hers in all my life. But more 
could not be. Madame, you have asked 

2 so The Heart of Princess Osra* 

what love is. Here is love. Yet fate is 
stronger. Thus I came to Strelsau to woo, 
and she, left alone, resolved to give herself 
to God." 

" How comes she here, then ? " whispered 
Osra, and she laid one hand timidly on the 
couch, near to the lady yet not so as to 
touch even her garments. 

11 She came here " he began ; but sud- 
denly, to their amazement, the lady, who 
had seemed dead, with an effort raised her- 
self on her elbow, and spoke in a quick eager 
whisper, as if she feared time and strength 
would fail. 

11 He is a great Prince," she said, " he 
must be a great King ; God means him for 
greatness, God forbid that I should be his 
ruin. Ah, what a sweet dream he painted ! 
But praise be to the Blessed Saints who 
kept me strong. Yet at the last I was 
weak. I could not live without another 
sight of his face ; and so I came. Next 
week I am I was to take the veil ; and I 
came here to see him once again. God 
pardon me for it. But I could not help it. 
Ah, madame, I know you, and I see now 
your beauty. Have you known love ?" 

" No," said Osra ; and she moved her 
hand near to the lady's hand. 

The Love of the Prince of Giottenberg. 251 

" When he found me here, he prayed me 
again to do what he asked ; and I was half 
killed in denying it. But I prevailed, and 
we were even then parting when you came. 
Why, why did I come ? " For a moment 
her voice died away in a low soft moan. 
But she made one more effort ; clasping 
Osra's hand in her delicate fingers, she whis- 
pered : " I am going. Be his wife." 

" No, no, no," whispered Osra, her face 
now close to the lady's. " You must live ; 
you must live and be happy." 

And then she kissed the lady's lips. The 
lady put out her arms and clasped them 
round Osra's neck, and again she whispered 
softly in Osra's ear. Neither Ludwig nor 
the Bishop heard what she said, but they 
heard only that Osra sobbed. Presently 
the lady's arms relaxed a little in their hold, 
and Osra, having kissed her again, rose and 
signed to Ludwig to come nearer ; while she, 
turning, gave her hand to the Bishop, and 
he led her from the room, and, finding 
another room near, took her in there, where 
she sat, silent and pale. 

Thus half an hour passed ; then the Bishop 
stole out softly, and presently returned, 
saying : 

" God has spared her the long painful 

252 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

path, and has taken her straight to His 

Osra heard him, half in a trance and as 
if she did not hear ; she did not know where 
he went nor what he did, nor anything that 
passed, until, as it seemed after a long 
while, she looked up and saw Prince Lud- 
wig standing before her. He was composed 
and calm ; but it seemed as if half the 
life had gone out of his face. Osra rose 
slowly to her feet, supporting herself on an 
arm of the chair on which she had sat ; and, 
when she had seen his face, she suddenly 
threw herself on the floor at his feet, cry- 
ing : 

" Forgive me, forgive me !' 

" The guilt is mine," said he, " I did not 
trust you and did by stealth what your 
nobility would have allowed me to do 
openly. The guilt is mine." And he offered 
to raise her. But she rose, unaided, asking 
with choking voice : 

-Is she dead?" 

" She is dead," said the Prince, and Osra, 
hearing it, covered her face with her hands 
and blindly groped her way back to the 
chair, where she sat, panting and exhausted. 

" To her I have said farewell, and now, 
madame, to you. Yet do not think that I 


The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg. 253 

am a man without eyes for your beauty, or 
a heart to know your worth. I seemed to 
you a fool and a churl. I grieved most 
bitterly, and I wronged you bitterly. My 
excuse for all is now known. For though 
you are more beautiful than she, yet true 
love is no wanderer ; it gives a beauty that 
it does not find, and forges a chain no 
charms can break. Madame, farewell." 

She looked at him and saw the sad joy in 
his eyes, an exultation over what had been, 
that what was could not destroy ; and she 
knew that the vision was still with him 
though his love was dead. Suddenly he 
seemed to her a man she also might love and 
for whom she also, if need be, might gladly 
die ; yet not because she loved him, for 
she was asking still in wonder : " What is 
this love ? " 

" Madame, farewell," said he again, and, 
kneeling before her, he kissed her hand. 

" I carry the body of my love," he went 
on, " back with me to my home, there to 
mourn for her ; and I shall come no more to 

Osra bent her eyes on his face as he knelt, 
and presently she said to him in a whisper 
that was low for awe, not shame : 

" You heard what she bade me do ? " 

254 The Heart of Princess Osra 

" Yes, madame. I know her wish." 

" And you would do it ? " she asked. 

11 Madame, my struggle was fought before 
she died. But now you know that my love 
was not yours." 

" That also I knew before, sir," and a 
slight bitter smile came on her face. But 
she grew grave again and sat there, seeming 
to be pondering, while Prince Ludwig 
waited. Then she suddenly leant forward 
and said : 

" If I loved I would wait for you to love. 
Now what is this love that I cannot feel ? " 

And then she sat again silent, but at last 
raised her eyes again to his, saying in a 
voice that even in the stillness of the room 
he hardly heard : 

" Now I nearly love you, for I have seen 
your love and know that you can love ; 
and I think that love must breed love, so 
that she who loves must in God's time be 

beloved. Yet I " She paused here, 

and for a moment hid her face with her 
hand. " Yet I cannot," she went on. " Is 
it our Lord Christ who bids us take the 
lower place? I cannot take it. He does 
not so reign in my heart. For to my proud 
heart ah, my heart so proud ! she would 
be ever between us. I could not bear it. 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg, 255 

Yet I believe now that with you I might 
one day find happiness." 

The Prince, though in that hour he could 
not think of love, was yet very much moved 
by her new tenderness and felt that what 
had passed rather drew them together than 
made any separation between them. And 
it seemed to him that the dead lady's bless- 
ing was on his suit ; so he said : 

" Madame, I would most faithfully serve 
you and you would be nearest and dearest 
to me of all living women." 

She waited awhile, then she sighed heavily, 
looking in his face with an air of wistful 
longing ; and she knit her brows as though 
she were puzzled. But at last, shaking her 
head, she said : 

" It is not enough." 

With this she rose and took him by the 
hand, and they two went back together to 
where the Bishop of Modenstein still prayed 
beside the body of the lady. 

Osra stood on one side of the body and 
stretched her hand out to the Prince who 
stood on the other side. 

u See," said she, " she must be between 
us." And having kissed the dead face 
once, she left the Prince there by the side of 
his love and herself went out ; and, turning 

256 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

her head, she saw that the Prince knelt again 
by the corpse of his love. 

" He does not think of me," she said to 
the Bishop. 

" His thoughts are still with her, madame," 
he answered. 

It was late night now, and they rode 
swiftly and silently along the road to Strel- 
sau. On all the way they spoke to one 
another only a few words, both being sunk 
deep in thought. But once Osra spoke, as 
they were already near to Strelsau. For 
she turned suddenly to the Bishop, saying : 

" My lord, what is it ? Do you know it ? " 

" Yes, madame, I have known it," 
answered the Bishop. 

" Yet you are a Churchman ! " 

"True, madame," said he, and he smiled 

She seemed to consider, fixing her eyes 
on his ; but he turned his aside. 

" Could you not make me understand?" 
she asked. 

" Your lover, when he comes, will do 
that, madame," said he, and still he kept 
his eyes averted. Osra wondered why he 
kept his eyes turned away ; yet presently 
a faint smile curved her lips, and she said : 

"It may be you might feel it, if you were 

The Love of the Prince of Glottenberg. 257 

not a Churchman. But I do not. Many 
men have said they loved me, and I have 
felt something in my heart ; but not this." 

" It will come," said the Bishop. 

" Does it come then to every one ?" 

" To most," he answered. 

" Heigho, will it ever come to me? " she 

With this they were at home. And Osra 
was for a long time very sorrowful for the 
fate of the lady whom the Prince of Glotten- 
berg had loved ; yet, since she saw Ludwig 
no more, and the joy of youth conquers 
sadness, she ceased to mourn ; but as she 
walked alone she would wonder more and 
more what it might be, this great love that 
she did not feel. 

"For none will tell me, not even the 
Bishop of Modenstein," said she. 

The Victory of the Grand Duke of Mittenheim. 

KING RUDOLF, being in the worst of 
humours, had declared in the presence of 
all the Court that women were born to 
plague men and for no other purpose what- 
soever under heaven. Hearing this dis- 
courteous speech, the Princess Osra rose and 
said that for her part she would go walking 
alone by the river outside the city gates, 
where at least she would be assailed by no 
more reproaches. For since she was irrevoc- 
ably determined to live and die unmarried, 
of what use or benefit was it to trouble her 
with embassies, courting, or proposals from 
either the Grand Duke of Mittenheim or 
anybody else ? She was utterly weary of 
this matter of love, and her mood would be 
unchanged though this new suitor were as 
exalted as the King of France, as rich as 
Crcesus himself, and as handsome as the god 
Apollo. She did not desire a husband, 
and there was an end of it. Thus she went 


The Victory of the Grand Duke* 259 

out, while the Queen sighed, and the King 
fumed, and the courtiers and ladies said to 
one another that these dissensions made 
life very uncomfortable at Strelsau, the 
ladies further adding that he would be a 
bold man who married Osra, although doubt- 
less she was not ill-looking. 

To the banks of the river outside the 
walls then Osra went ; and as she went she 
seemed to be thinking of nothing at all in 
the world, least of all of whom she might 
chance to meet there on the banks of the 
river, where in those busy hours of the day 
few came. Yet there was a strange new 
light in her eyes, and there seemed a new 
understanding in her mind ; and when a 
young peasant wife came by, her baby in 
her arms, Osra stopped her, and kissed the 
child and gave money, and then ran on in 
unexplained confusion, laughing and blush- 
ing as though she had done something 
which she did not wish to be seen. Then 
without reason her eyes filled with tears, 
but she dashed them away and burst sud- 
denly into singing. And she was still sing- 
ing when, from the long grass by the river's 
edge, a young man sprang up, and, with a 
very low bow, drew aside to let her pass. 
He had a book in his hand, for he was' a 

260 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

student at the University, and came there 
to pursue his learning in peace ; his plain 
brown clothes spoke of no wealth or station, 
though certainly they set off a stalwart 
straight shape and seemed to match well 
with his bright brown hair and hazel eyes. 
Very low this young man bowed and Osra 
bent her head. The pace of her walk 
slowed, grew quicker, slowed again ; she was 
past him, and with a great sigh he lay down 
again. She turned, he sprang up ; she spoke 
coldly, yet kindly. 

" Sir," said she, " I cannot but notice that 
you lie every day here by the river with your 
book, and that you sigh. Tell me your 
trouble, and if I can I will relieve it." 

" I am reading, madame," he answered, 
" of Helen of Troy, and I am sighing be- 
cause she is dead." 

"It is an old grief by now," said Osra, 
smiling. " Will none serve you but Helen 
of Troy ? " 

" If I were a Prince," said he, " I need 
not mourn." 

"No, sir?" 

" No, madame," he said, with another bow. 

" Farewell, sir." 

" Madame, farewell." 

So she went on her way, and saw him no 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 261 

more till the next day, nor after that till the 
next day following ; and then came an in- 
terval when she saw him not, and the inter- 
val was no less than twenty-four hours ; yet 
still he read of Helen of Troy, and still 
sighed because she was dead, and he no 
Prince. At last he tempted the longed-for 
question from Osra's shy smiling lips. 

"Why would you not mourn, sir, if you 
were a Prince ?" said she. "For Princes 
and Princesses have their share of sighs." 
And with a very plaintive sigh Osra looked 
at the rapid running river, as she waited for 
his answer. 

" Because then I would go to Strelsau 
and so forget her." 

" But you are at Strelsau now ! " she cried 
with wondering surprise. 

"Ah, but I am no Prince, madame," said 

" Can Princes alone forget in Strelsau ? " 

" How should a poor student dare to 
forget in Strelsau ? " As he spoke he made 
bold to step near her and stood close, look- 
ing down into her face. Without a word 
she turned and left him, going through the 
meadow with a step that seemed to dance 
and yet led her to her own chamber, where 
she could weep in quiet. 

262 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

" I know it now, I know it now," she 
whispered softly that night to the tree which 
rose by her window. " Heigho, what am I 
to do ? I cannot live, no, and now I cannot 
die. Ah me, what am I to do ? I wish I 
were a peasant girl ; but then perhaps he 
would not ah, yes, but he would ! " And 
her low long laugh rippled in triumph 
through the night, blending sweetly with 
the rustling of the leaves under a summer 
breeze ; and she stretched her white arms to 
heaven, imploring the kind God with prayers 
that she dared not speak even to His pitiful 

" Love knows no Princesses, my Prin- 
cess." It was that she heard as she fled from 
him next day. She should have rebuked 
him. But for that she must have stayed ; 
and to stay she had not dared. But she 
must rebuke him. She would see him again 
in order to rebuke him. Yet all this while 
she must be pestered with the court of the 
Grand Duke of Mittenheim ! And when she 
would not name a day on which the em- 
bassy should come, the King flew into a 
passion, and declared that he himself would 
set a date for it. Was his sister mad, he 
asked, that she would do nothing but walk 
every day by the river's bank ? " Surely I 


The Victory of the Grand Duke* 263 

must be mad," thought Osra ; for no sane 
being could be at once so joyful and so 
piteously unhappy. 

Did he know what it was he asked ? He 
seemed to know nothing of it. He did not 
speak any more now of Princesses, only of 
his Princess, nor of Queens, save of his 
heart's queen ; and when his eyes asked love, 
they asked as though none would refuse and 
there could be no cause for refusal. He 
would have wooed his neighbour's daughter 
thus, and thus he wooed the sister of King 

" Will you love me ? " was his question, 
not, " Though you love, yet dare you own 
your love ? " He seemed to shut the whole 
world from her, leaving nothing but her and 
him ; and in a world that held none but her 
and him, she could love, unblamed, un- 
troubled, and with no trembling. 

" You forget who I am," she faltered 

"You are the beauty of the world," he 
answered smiling, and he kissed her hand 
a matter about which she could make no 
great ado, for it was not the first time that 
he had kissed it. 

But the embassy from the Grand Duke 
was to come in a week and to be received 

264 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

with great pomp. The ambassador was 
already on the way, carrying proposals and 
gifts. Therefore Osra went pale and sad 
down to the river bank that day, having 
declared again to the King that she would 
live and die unmarried. But the King had 
laughed cruelly. Surely she needed kind- 
ness and consolation that sad day ; yet Fate 
had kept for her a crowning sorrow ; for 
she found him also almost sad ; at least she 
could not tell whether he was sad or not. 
For he smiled and yet seemed ill at ease, 
like a man who ventures a fall with fortune, 
hoping and fearing. And he said to her : 

" Madame, in a week I return to my own 

She looked at him in silence with lips 
just parted. For her life she could not 
speak ; but the sun grew dark and the river 
changed its merry tune to mournful dirges. 

" So the dream ends," said he. " So 
comes the awakening. But if life were all 
a dream ? " His eyes sought hers. 

" Yes," she whispered, " if life were all a 
dream, sir ?" 

" Then I should dream of two dreamers 
whose dream was one, and in that dream I 
should see them ride together at break of 
day from Strelsau." 

The Victory of the Grand Duke. 265 

" Whither ? " she murmured. 

" To Paradise," said he. " But the 

dream ends. If it did not end " He 


" If it did not end ? " a breathless longing 
whisper echoed. 

" If it did not end now, it should not end 
even with death," said he. 

" You see them in your dream ? You 
see them riding?" 

" Aye, swiftly, side by side, they two 
alone, through the morning. None is near ; 
none knows." 

He seemed to be searching her face for 
something that yet he scarcely hoped to 

" Their dream," said he, " brings them at 
last to a small cottage ; it is where they 

" They live?" 

" And work," he added. " For she keeps 
his home while he works." 

" What does she do ?" asked Osra, with 
smiling wondering eyes. 

" She gets his supper for him when he 
comes home weary in the evening, and 
makes a bright fire, and 

" Ah, and she runs to meet him at the 
door ! Oh, farther than the door ! " 

268 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

man were only firm enough and kept his 
temper (which, by the way, the King had 
not done, though none dared say so), he 
could bring any foolish girl to reason in 
good time. For in the softest voice, and 
with the strangest smile flitting to her face, 
the Princess Osra was pleased to bid the 
embassy come on the fifth day from then. 

<4 They shall have their answer then," said 
she, flushing and smiling. 

" It is as much as any lady could say," the 
Court declared ; and it was reported through 
all Strelsau that the match was as good as 
made, and that Osra was to be Grand 
Duchess of Mittenheim. 

" She's a sensible girl after all," cried 
Rudolf, all his anger gone. 

The dream began then, before they came 
to the cottage. Those days she lived in its 
golden mists, that shut out all the cold 
world from her, moving through space which 
held but one form, and time that stood still 
waiting for one divine unending moment. 
And the embassy drew near to Strelsau. 

It was night, the dead of night, and all 
was still in the Palace. But the sentinel by 
the little gate was at his post, and the gate- 
warden stood by the Western Gate of the 
city. Each was now alone, but to each, an 

The Victory of the Grand Duke. 269 

hour ago, a man had come stealthily and 
silently through the darkness ; and each 
was richer by a bag of gold than he had 
been before. The gold was Osra's how 
should a poor student, whose whole fortune 
was two horses, scatter bags of gold ? And 
other gold Osra had, aye, five hundred 
crowns. Would not that be a brave sur- 
. prise for the poor student ? And she, alone 
of all awake, stood looking round her room, 
entranced with the last aspect of it. Over 
the city also she looked, but in the selfish- 
ness of her joy did no more than kiss a 
hasty farewell to the good city folk who 
loved her. Once she thought that maybe, 
some day, he and she would steal together 
back to Strelsau, and sheltered by some 
disguise watch the King ride in splendour 
through the streets. But if not why, what 
was Strelsau, and the people, and the rest ? 
Ah, how long the hours were, before those 
two horses stood by the little gate, and the 
sentry and the gate-warden earned their 
bags of gold ! So she passed the hours, the 
last long lingering hours. 

There was a little tavern buried in the 
narrowest oldest street of the city. Here 
the poor student had lodged ; here, in the 
back room, a man sat at a table, and two 

268 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

man were only firm enough and kept his 
temper (which, by the way, the King had 
not done, though none dared say so), he 
could bring any foolish girl to reason in 
good time. For in the softest voice, and 
with the strangest smile flitting to her face, 
the Princess Osra was pleased to bid the 
embassy come on the fifth day from then. 

" They shall have their answer then," said 
she, flushing and smiling. 

" It is as much as any lady could say," the 
Court declared ; and it was reported through 
all Strelsau that the match was as good as 
made, and that Osra was to be Grand 
Duchess of Mittenheim. 

" She's a sensible girl after all," cried 
Rudolf, all his anger gone. 

The dream began then, before they came 
to the cottage. Those days she lived in its 
golden mists, that shut out all the cold 
world from her, moving through space which 
held but one form, and time that stood still 
waiting for one divine unending moment. 
And the embassy drew near to Strelsau. 

It was night, the dead of night, and all 
was still in the Palace. But the sentinel by 
the little gate was at his post, and the gate- 
warden stood by the Western Gate of the 
city. Each was now alone, but to each, an 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 269 

hour ago, a man had come stealthily and 
silently through the darkness ; and each 
was richer by a bag of gold than he had 
been before. The gold was Osra's how 
should a poor student, whose whole fortune 
was two horses, scatter bags of gold ? And 
other gold Osra had, aye, five hundred 
crowns. Would not that be a brave sur- 
prise for the poor student ? And she, alone 
of all awake, stood looking round her room, 
entranced with the last aspect of it. Over 
the city also she looked, but in the selfish- 
ness of her joy did no more than kiss a 
hasty farewell to the good city folk who 
loved her. Once she thought that maybe, 
some day, he and she would steal together 
back to Strelsau, and sheltered by some 
disguise watch the King ride in splendour 
through the streets. But if not why, what 
was Strelsau, and the people, and the rest ? 
Ah, how long the hours were, before those 
two horses stood by the little gate, and the 
sentry and the gate-warden earned their 
bags of gold ! So she passed the hours, the 
last long lingering hours. 

There was a little tavern buried in the 
narrowest oldest street of the city. Here 
the poor student had lodged ; here, in the 
back room, a man sat at a table, and two 

270 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

others stood before him. These two seemed 
gentlemen, and their air spoke of military 
training. They stroked long moustaches 
and smiled with an amusement that defer- 
ence could not hide. Both were booted 
and wore spurs, and the man sitting at the 
table gave them orders. 

1 'You will meet the embassy," he said to 
one, " about ten o'clock. Bring it to the 
place I have appointed, and wait there. 
Do not fail." 

The officer addressed bowed and retired. 
A minute later his horse's hoofs clattered 
through the streets. Perhaps he also had 
a bag of gold, for the gate-warden opened 
the Western Gate for him, and he rode at a 
gallop along the river banks, till he reached 
the great woods that stretch to within ten 
miles of Strelsau. 

" An hour after we are gone," said the 
man at the table to the other officer, " go 
warily, find one of the King's servants, and 
hand him the letter. Give no account of 
how you came by it, and say nothing of who 
you are. All that is necessary is in the 
letter. When you have delivered it, return 
here and remain in close hiding, till you 
hear from me again." 

The second officer bowed. The man at 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 271 

the table rose and went out into the street. 
He took his way to where the Palace rose, 
and then skirted the wall of its gardens, till 
he came to the little gate. Here stood two 
horses, and at their heads a man. 

" It is well. You may go," said the 
student ; and he was left alone with the 
horses. They were good horses for a 
student to possess. The thought perhaps 
crossed their owner's mind, for he laughed 
softly as he looked at them. Then he also 
fell to thinking that the hours were long ; 
and a fear came suddenly upon him that 
she would not come. It was in these last 
hours that doubts crept in ; and he was not 
with her to drive them away. Would the 
great trial fail ? Would she shrink at the 
last ? But he would not think it of her, 
and he was smiling again, when the clock of 
the Cathedral struck two, telling him that 
no more than an hour now parted her from 
him. For she would come ; the Princess 
would come to him, the student, led by the 
vision of that cottage in the dream. 

Would she come ? She would come ; she 
had risen from her knees and moved to and 
fro in cautious silence, making her last prep- 
arations. She had written a word of love 
for the brother she loved for some day, of 

*7 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

course, Rudolf would forgive her and she 
had ready all that she took with her, the 
five hundred crowns, one ring that she would 
give her lover, some clothes to serve till his 
loving labour furnished more. That night 
she had wept and she had laughed ; now 
she neither wept nor laughed ; but there 
was a high pride in her face and gait. She 
opened the door of her room, and walked 
down the great staircase, under the eyes of 
crowned Kings who hung framed upon the 
walls. And as she went she seemed indeed 
their daughter. For her head was erect, 
and her lips set firm in haughty dignity. 
Who dared to say that she did anything that 
a King's daughter should not do ? Should 
not a woman love ? Love should be her 
diadem. And so with this proud step she 
came through the gardens of the Palace, 
looking neither to right nor left, nor be- 
hind, but with her face set straight for the 
little gate ; and she walked as she had been 
accustomed to walk when all Strelsau looked 
on her, and hailed her as its glory and its 

The sentry slept, or seemed to sleep. 
Her face was not even veiled when she 
opened the little gate ; she would not veil 
her proud face, it was his to look on now 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 273 

when he would ; and thus she stood for an 
instant in the gateway, while he sprang to 
her, and, kneeling, carried her hand to his 

"You are come? "he cried; for though 
he had believed, yet he wondered. 

" I am come," she smiled. " Is not the 
word of a Princess sure? Ah, how could I 
not come ? " 

"See, love," said he, rising, "day dawns 
in royal purple for you, and golden love for 


" The purple is for my King and the love 
for me," she whispered, as he led her to the 
horses. " Your fortune ! " said she, point- 
ing to them. " But I also have brought a 
dowry. Fancy, five hundred crowns ! " and 
her mirth and happiness burst out in a 
laugh. It was so deliciously little, five 
hundred crowns ! 

She was mounted now and he stood by 

" Will you turn back ? " he said. 

" You shall not make me angry," said she. 
" Come, mount." 

" Aye, I must mount," said he. " For if 
we were found here the King would kill 

For the first time the peril of their enter- 

274 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

prise seemed to strike into her mind, and 
turned her cheek pale. 

"Ah, I forgot ! In my happiness I for- 
got. Mount, mount ! Oh, if he found 
you ! " 

He mounted. Once they clasped hands ; 
then they rode swiftly for the Western Gate. 

"Veil your face," he said, and since he 
bade her, she obeyed, saying : 

4< But I can see you through the veil." 

The gate stood open, and the gate-warden 
was not there. They were out of the city, 
the morning air blew cold and pure over the 
meadows from the river. The horses 
stretched into an eager willing gallop. Osra 
tore her veil from her face, and turned on 
him eyes of radiant triumph. 

" It is done," she cried, " it is done." 

" Yes, it is done, my Princess," said he. 

" And and it is begun, my Prince," said 

" Yes, and it is begun," said he. 

She laughed aloud in absolute joy, and 
for a moment he also laughed. 

But then his face grew grave, and he said : 

" I pray you may never grieve for it." 

She looked at him with eyes wide in 
wonder ; for an instant she seemed puzzled ; 
then she fell again to laughing. 

The Victory of the Grand Duke. 275 

" Grieve for it ! " said she, between her 
merry laughs. 

King Rudolf was a man who lay late in 
the morning, and he was not well pleased 
to be roused when the clock had but just 
struck four. Yet he sat up in his bed 
readily enough, for he imagined that the 
embassy from the Grand Duke of Mitten- 
heim must be nearer than he thought, and, 
sooner than fail in any courtesy towards a 
Prince whose alliance he ardently desired, 
he was ready to submit to much incon- 
venience. But his astonishment was great, 
when, instead of any tidings from the em- 
bassy, one of his gentlemen handed him a 
letter, saying that a servant had received it 
from a stranger with instructions to carry it 
at once to the King ; when asked if an 
answer were desired from his Majesty, the 
stranger had answered, " Not through me," 
and at once turned away and quickly dis- 
appeared. The King, with a peevish oath 
at having been roused for such a trifle broke 
the seal and fastenings of the letter, and 
opened it ; and he read : 

" Sire, Your sister does not wait for the 
embassy, but chooses her own lover. She 
has met a student of the University every 
day for the last three weeks by the river 

276 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

bank." (The King started.) " This morn- 
ing she has fled with him on horseback 
along the Western Road. If you desire a 
student for a brother-in-law, sleep again ; if 
not, up and ride. Do not doubt these tid- 

There was no signature to the letter ; yet 
the King, knowing his sister, cried : 

" See whether the Princess is in the 
Palace. And in the meanwhile saddle my 
horse, and let a dozen of the Guard be at 
the gate." 

The Princess was not in the Palace, but 
her women found the letter that she had 
left, and brought it to the King. And the 
King read : " Brother, whom I love best of 
all men in the world save one, I have left 
you to go with that one. You will not for- 
give me now, but some day forgive me. 
Nay, it is not I who have done it, but my 
love which is braver than I. He is the 
sweetest gentleman alive, brother, and there- 
fore he must be my lord. Let me go, but 
still love me. Osra." 

" It [is true," said the King ; " and the 
embassy will be here to-day ! " For a 
moment he seemed dazed. Yet he spoke 
nothing to anybody of what the letters con- 
tained, but sent word to the Queen's apart- 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 277 

ments that he went riding for pleasure. 
And he took his sword and his pistols ; for 
he swore that by his own hand and by that 
of no other man, this " sweetest gentleman 
alive " should meet his death. But all, 
knowing that the Princess was not in the 
Palace, guessed that the King's sudden 
haste concerned her ; and great wonder and 
speculation rose in the Palace, and presently, 
as the morning advanced, spread from the 
Palace to its environs, and from the environs 
to the rest of the city. For it was reported 
that a sentinel who had stood guard that 
night was missing, and that the gate-warden 
of the Western Gate was nowhere to be 
found, and that a mysterious letter had 
come by an unknown hand to the King, 
and lastly, that Princess Osra their Prin- 
cess was gone, whether of her own will or 
by some bold plot of seizure and kidnap- 
ping, none knew. Thus a great stir grew in 
all Strelsau ; men stood about the streets 
gossiping when they should have gone to 
work, while women chattered instead of 
sweeping their houses and dressing their 
children. So that when the King rode out 
of the courtyard of the Palace at a gallop, 
with twelve of the Guard behind, he could 
hardly make his way through the streets for 

278 The Heart of Princess Osra<> 

the people who crowded round him, implor- 
ing 1 him to tell them where the Princess 
was. When the King saw that the matter 
had become public, his wrath was greater 
still, and he swore again that the student of 
the University should pay the price of life 
for his morning ride with the Princess. 
And when he darted through the gate and 
set his horse straight along the Western 
Road, many of the people, neglecting all 
their business as folk will for excitement's 
sake, followed him as they best could, agog 
to see the thing to its end. 

" The horses are weary," said the student 
to the Princess, "we must let them rest; 
we are now in the shelter of the wood." 

(i But my brother may pursue you," she 
urged, " and if he came up with you ah, 
heaven forbid ! " 

" He will not know you have gone for 
another three hours," smiled he. " And 
here is a green bank where we can rest." 

So he aided her to dismount ; then, say- 
ing he would tether the horses, he led them 
away some distance, so that she could not 
see where he had posted them ; and he re- 
turned to her, smiling still. Then he took 
from his pocket some bread, and breaking 
the loaf in two, gave her one half, saying : 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 279 

" There is a spring just here ; so we shall 
have a good breakfast." 

" Is this your breakfast ?" she asked with 
a wondering laugh. Then she began to 
eat, and cried directly: " How delicious this 
bread is ! I would have nothing else for 
breakfast " ; and at this the student laughed. 

Yet Osra ate little of the bread she liked 
so well ; presently she leant against her 
lover's shoulder, and he put his arm round 
her ; and they sat for a little while in silence 
listening to the soft sounds that filled the 
waking woods as day grew to fulness and 
the sun beat warm through the sheltering 

" Don't you hear the trees ?" Osra whis- 
pered to her lover. " Don't you hear them ? 
They are whispering for me what I dare 
not whisper." 

"What is it they whisper, sweet?" he 
asked ; he himself did no more than whisper. 

" The trees whisper, ' Love, love, love.' 
And the wind don't you hear the wind 
murmuring, ' Love, love, love ' ? And the 
birds sing, ' Love, love, love.' Aye, all the 
world to-day is softly whispering, ' Love, 
love, love.' What else should the great 
world whisper but my love ? For my love 
is greater than the world," And she sud- 

280 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

denly hid her face in her hands ; and he 
could kiss no more than her hands, though 
her eyes gleamed at him from between slim 
white fingers. 

But suddenly her hands dropped, and she 
leant forward as though she listened. 

" What is that sound ? " she asked, appre- 
hension dawning in her eyes. 

" It is but another whisper, love ! " said he. 

" Nay, but it sounds to me like ah, like 
the noise of horses galloping." 

" It is but the stream, beating over stones." 

" Listen, listen, listen !" she cried spring- 
ing to her feet. " They are horses' hoofs ! 
Ah, merciful God, it is the King ! " And 
she caught him by the hand and pulled him 
to his feet, looking at him with a face pale 
and alarmed. 

" Not the King," said he. " He would 
not know yet. It is some one else. Hide 
your face, dear lady, and all will be well." 

" It is the King," she cried. " Hark how 
ili< y j'lillop on the road ! It is my brother. 
l.ovr, he will kill you, love, he will kill 

" It is the King," said he, " I have been 

' 'J he horses, the horses ! " she cried, 
I'.y your I<>\<- lor me, the horses!" 

The Victory of the Grand Duke. 281 

He nodded his head, and, turning, disap- 
peared among the trees. She stood with 
clasped hands, heaving breast, and fearful 
eyes, awaiting his return. Minutes passed 
and he did not come. She flung herself on 
her knees, beseeching heaven for his life. 
At last he came alone, and he bent over 
her, taking her hand. 

" My love," said he, " the horses are gone ! " 

" Gone ? " she cried, gripping his hand. 

" Aye. This love, my love, is a wonder- 
ful thing. For I forgot to tie them, and 
they are gone. Yet what matter ? For the 
King yes, sweet, I think now it is the 
King will not be here for some minutes 
yet, and those minutes I have still for love 
and life." 

" He will kill you," she said. 

" Yes," said he. 

She looked long in his eyes ; then she 
threw her arms about his neck, and, for the 
first time unasked, covered his face with 

" Kiss me, kiss me," said she ; and he 
kissed her. Then she drew back a little, 
but took his arm and set it round her waist. 
And she drew a little knife from her girdle, 
and showed it to him. 

" If the King will not pardon us and let 

282 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

us love one another, I also will die," said 
she, and her voice was quiet and happy. 
" Indeed, my love, I should not grieve. Ah, 
do not tell me to live without you ! " 

" Would you obey ? " he asked. 

" Not in that," said she. 

Thus they stood, while the sound of the 
hoofs drew very near. But she looked up 
at him and he looked at her ; then she 
looked at the point of the little dagger, and 
she whispered : 

" Keep your arm round me till I die." 

He bent his head and kissed her once 
again, saying : 

" My Princess, it is enough." 

And she, though she did not know why 
he smiled, yet smiled back at him. For 
although life was sweet that day, yet such a 
death, with him, and to prove her love for 
him, seemed well-nigh as sweet. Thus they 
awaited the coming of the King. 

King Rudolf and his Guards far out- 
stripped the people who pursued them from 
the city, and when they came to the skirt 
of the wood they divided themselves into 
four parties, since, if they went all together, 
they might easily miss the fugitives whom 
they sought. Of these four parties one 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 283 

found nothing, another found the two horses, 
which the student himself, who had hidden 
them, failed to find ; the third party had not 
gone far before they caught sight of the 
lovers, though the lovers did not see them ; 
and two of them remained to watch, and if 
need were to intercept any attempted flight, 
while the other rode off to find the King 
and bring him where Osra and the student 
were, as he had commanded. 

But the fourth party, with which the 
King was, though it did not find the fugi- 
tives, found the embassy from the Grand 
Duke of Mittenheim ; for the ambassador, 
with all his train, was resting by the road- 
side, seeming in no haste at all to reach 
Strelsau. When the King suddenly rode 
up at great speed and came upon the em- 
bassy, an officer that stood by the ambassa- 
dor whose name was Count Sergius of 
Antheim stooped down and whispered in 
his Excellency's ear ; upon which he rose 
and advanced towards the King, uncovering 
his head and bowing profoundly ; for he 
chose to assume that the King had ridden 
to meet him out of excessive graciousness 
and courtesy towards the Grand Duke ; so 
that he began, to the impatient King's infi- 
nite annoyance, to make a very long and 

284 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

stately speech, assuring his Majesty of the 
great hope and joy with which his master 
awaited the result of the embassy ; for, said 
he, since the King was so zealous in his 
cause, his master could not bring himself to 
doubt of success, and therefore most confi- 
dently looked to win for his bride the most 
exalted and lovely lady in the world, the 
peerless Princess Osra, the glory of the 
Court of Strelsau, and the brightest jewel 
in the crown of the King her brother. Hav- 
ing brought this period to a prosperous 
conclusion, Count Sergius took breath 
and began another that promised to be 
fully as magnificent and not a whit less 
long. So that, before it was well started, 
the King smote his hand on his thigh, and 
roared : 

" Heavens, man, while you're making 
speeches, that rascal is carrying off my 
sister ! " 

Count Sergius, who was an elderly man 
of handsome presence and great dignity, 
being thus rudely and strangely interrupted, 
showed great astonishment and offence ; but 
the officer by him covered his mouth with 
his hand to hide a smile. For the moment 
that the King had spoken these impetuous 
words he was himself overwhelmed with 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 285 

confusion ; since the last thing that he 
wished the Grand Duke's ambassador to 
know was that the Princess, whom his mas- 
ter courted, had run away that morning 
with a student of the University of Strelsau. 
Accordingly he began, very hastily and with 
more regard for prudence than for truth, to 
tell Count Sergius how a noted and bold 
criminal had that morning swooped down 
on the Princess as she rode unattended out- 
side the city and carried her off ; which 
seemed to the ambassador a very strange 
story. But the King told it with great 
fervour, and he besought the Count to 
scatter his attendants all through the wood, 
and seek the robber ; yet he charged them 
not to kill the man themselves but to keep 
him till he came. " For I have sworn to 
kill him with my own hand," he cried. 

Now Count Sergius, however much aston- 
ished he might be, could do nothing but 
accede to the King's request, and he sent 
off all his men to scour the woods, and, 
mounting his horse, himself set out with 
them, showing great zeal in the King's 
service, but still thinking the King's story 
a very strange one. Thus the King was 
left alone with his two Guards and with 
the officer who had smiled. 

286 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

"Will you not go also, sir?" asked the 

But at this moment a man galloped up 
at furious speed, crying : 

" We have found them, sire, we have 
found them ! " 

" Then he hasn't five minutes to live!" 
cried the King in fierce joy, and he lugged 
out his sword, adding : " The moment I set 
my eyes on him, I will kill him. There is 
no need for words between me and him." 

At this speech the face of the officer grew 
suddenly grave and alarmed, and he put 
spurs to his horse and hastened after the 
King, who had at once dashed away in the 
direction in which the man had pointed ; 
but the King had got a start and kept it, so 
that the officer seemed terribly frightened, 
and muttered to himself : 

" Heaven send that he does not kill him 
before he knows ! " And he added some 
very impatient words, concerning the follies 
of Princes, and, above all, of Princes in 

Thus, while the ambassador and his men 
searched high and low for the noted robber, 
and the King's men hunted for the student 
of the University, the King, followed by 
two of his Guards at a distance of about 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 287 

fifty yards (for his horse was better than 
theirs), came straight to where Osra and 
her lover stood together ; a few yards be- 
hind the Guards came the officer ; and he 
also had by now drawn his sword. But he 
rode so eagerly that he overtook and passed 
the King's Guards, and got within thirty 
yards of the King by the time that the 
King was within twenty of the lovers. But 
the King let him get no nearer, for he dug 
his spurs again into his horse's side, and 
the animal bounded forward, while the 
King cried furiously to his sister : " Stand 
away from him ! " 

The Princess did not heed, but stood in 
front of her lover (for the student was 
wholly unarmed), holding up the little dag- 
ger in her hand. The King laughed scorn- 
fully and angrily, thinking that Osra 
menaced him with the weapon, and not 
supposing that it was herself for whom she 
destined it. And, having reached them, the 
King leapt from his horse and ran at them, 
with his sword raised to strike. Osra gave 
a cry of terror. " Mercy ! " she cried, 
" mercy ! " But the King had no thought 
of mercy, and he would certainly then and 
there have killed her lover, had not the 
officer, gaining a moment's time by the 

288 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

King's dismounting, at this very instant 
come galloping up ; and, there being no 
leisure for any explanation, he leant from his 
saddle as he dashed by, and, putting out 
his hand, snatched the King's sword away 
from him, just as the King was about to 
thrust it through his sister's lover. 

But the officer's horse was going so 
furiously that he could not stop it for hard 
on forty yards ; he narrowly escaped split- 
ting his head against a great bough that 
hung low across the grassy path, and he 
dropped first his own sword and then the 
King's ; but at last he brought his horse to 
a standstill, and, leaping down, ran back 
towards where the swords lay. But at the 
moment the King also ran towards them ; 
for the fury that he had been in before was 
as nothing to that which now possessed him. 
After his sword was snatched from him he 
stood in speechless anger for a full minute, 
but then had turned to pursue the man who 
had dared to treat him with such insult ; 
and now, in his desire to be at the officer, 
he had come very near to forgetting the 
student. Just as the officer came to where 
the King's sword lay and picked it up, the 
King in his turn reached the officer's sword 
and picked up that. The King came with 

The Victory of the Grand Dnke* 289 

a rush at the officer, who, seeing that the 
King was likely to kill him, or he the King, 
if he stood his ground, turned tail and sped 
away at the top of his speed through the 
forest ; but as he went, thinking that the 
time had come for plain speaking, he looked 
back over his shoulder and shouted : 

" Sire, it's the Grand Duke himself ! " 

The King stopped short in sudden amaze- 

" Is the man mad ? " he asked. " Who 
is the Grand Duke?" 

" It's the Grand Duke, sire, who is with 
the Princess. You would have killed him 
if I had not snatched your sword," said the 
officer, and he also came to a halt, but he 
kept a very wary eye on King Rudolf. 

" I should certainly have killed him, let 
him be who he will," said the King. " But 
why do you call him the Grand Duke ? " 

The officer very cautiously approached 
the King, and, seeing that the King made 
no threatening motion, he at last trusted 
himself so close that he could speak to the 
King in a very low voice ; and what he said 
seemed to astonish, please, and alnuse the 
King immensely. For he clapped the offi- 
cer on the back, laughed heartily, and 
cried ; 

290 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

" A pretty trick ! on my life, a pretty 

Now Osra and her lover had not heard 
what the officer had shouted to the King, 
and when Osra saw her brother returning 
from among the trees alone and with his 
sword, she still supposed that her lover 
must die ; so she turned and flung her arms 
round his neck, and clung to him for a 
moment, kissing him. Then she faced the 
King, with a smile on her lips and the little 
dagger in her hand. But the King came 
up, wearing a scornful smile ; and he asked 

" What is the dagger for, my wilful sis- 

" For me, if you kill him," said she. 

" You will kill yourself, then, if I kill 
him ? " 

" I would not live a moment after he was 

" Faith, it is wonderful ! " said the King 
with a shrug. " Then plainly, if you cannot 
live without him, you must live with him. 
He is to be your husband, not mine. There- 
fore take him, if you will." 

When Osra heard this, which, indeed, for 
joy and wonder she could hardly believe, 
she dropped her dagger, and, running for- 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 291 

ward, fell on her knees before her brother ; 
catching his hand, she covered it with 
kisses, and her tears mingled with her 
kisses. But the King let her go on, and 
stood over her, laughing and looking at the 
student. Presently the student began to 
laugh also, and he had just advanced a step 
towards King Rudolf, when Count Sergius 
of Antheim, the Grand Duke's ambassador, 
came out from among the trees, riding hotly 
and with great zeal after the noted robber. 
But no sooner did the Count see the stu- 
dent, than he stopped his horse, leapt down 
with a cry of wonder, and, running up to 
the student, bowed very low and kissed 
his hand. So that when Osra looked 
round from her kissing of her brother's 
hand, she beheld [the Grand Duke's ambas- 
sador kissing the hand of her lover. She 
sprang to her feet in wonder. 

" Who are you ? " she cried to the student, 
running in between him and the ambassador. 

" Your lover and servant," said he. 

" And besides ? " she said. 

" Why, in a month, your husband," 
laughed the King, taking her lover by the 

He clasped the King's hand, but turned 
at once to her, saying humbly : 

292 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

" Alas, I have no cottage ! " 

" Who are you ? " she whispered to him. 

" The man for whom you were ready to 
die, my Princess. Is it not enough ? " 

" Yes, it is enough," said she ; and she 
did not repeat her question. But the King, 
with a short laugh, turned on his heel, and 
taking Count Sergius by the arm walked 
off with him ; and presently they called the 
officer and learnt fully how the Grand Duke 
had come to Strelsau, and how he had 
contrived to woo and win the Princess 
Osra, and finally to carry her off from the 

It was an hour later when the whole of 
the two companies, that of the King and 
that of the ambassador, were all gathered 
together again, and had heard the story ; 
so that when the King went to where Osra 
and the Grand Duke walked together 
among the trees, and taking each by a hand 
led them out, they were greated with a 
great cheer ; they mounted their horses, 
which the Grand Duke now found without 
any difficulty, although when the need of 
them seemed far greater the student could 
not contrive to come upon them ; and the 
whole company rode together out of the 
wood and along the road towards Strelsau, 

The Victory of the Grand Duke. 293 

the King being full of jokes and hugely 
delighted with a trick that suited his merry 
fancy. But before they had ridden far they 
met the great crowd which had come out 
from Strelsau to learn what had happened 
to Princess Osra. And the King cried out 
that the Grand Duke was to marry the 
Princess, while his Guards, who had been 
with him, and the ambassador's people, 
spread themselves among the crowd and 
told the story ; and when they heard it, the 
Strelsau folk were nearly beside themselves 
with amusement and delight, and thronged 
round Osra, kissing her hands and blessing 
her. The King drew back and let her and 
the Grand Duke ride alone together, while 
he followed with Count Sergius. Thus 
moving at a very slow pace, they came in 
the forenoon to Strelsau ; but some one 
had galloped on ahead with the news, and 
the Cathedral bells had been set ringing, 
the streets were full, and the whole city 
given over to excitement and rejoicing. 
All the men were that day in love with 
Princess Osra, and, what is more, they told 
their sweethearts so ; and these found no 
other revenge than to blow kisses and fling 
flowers at the Grand Duke as he rode past 
with Osra by his side. So they came back 

294 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

to the Palace, whence they had fled in the 
early gleams of the morning's light. 

It was evening and the moon rose, fair 
and clear, over Strelsau. In the streets 
there were sounds of merriment and rejoic- 
ing ; every house was bright with light ; 
the King had sent out meat and wine for 
every soul in the city that none might be 
sad or hungry or thirsty in all the city that 
night ; so that there was no small uproar. 
The King himself sat in his armchair, 
toasting the bride and bridegroom in com- 
pany with Count Sergius of Antheim, whose 
dignity, somewhat wounded by the trick his 
master had played on him, was healing 
quickly under the balm of King Rudolf's 
graciousness. And the King said to Count 
Sergius : 

" My lord, were you ever in love ?" 

" I was, sire," said the Count. 

" So was I," said the King. " Was it 
with the Countess, my lord ? " 

Count Sergius's eyes twinkled demurely, 
but he answered : 

" I take it, sire, that it must have been 
with the Countess." 

" And I take it," said the King, " that it 
must have been with the Queen." 

Then they both laughed ; and then they 

The Victory of thc^Grand Duke* 295 

both sighed ; and the King, touching the 
Count's elbow, pointed out to the terrace 
of the Palace, on to which the room where 
they were opened. For Princess Osra and 
her lover were walking up and down to- 
gether on this terrace. And the two 
shrugged their shoulders, smiling. 

" With him," remarked the King, " it will 
have been with " 

" The Countess, sire," discreetly inter- 
rupted Count Sergius of Antheim. 

" Why, yes, the Countess," said the King, 
and with a laugh they turned back to their 

But the two on the terrace also talked. 

" I do not yet understand it," said Princess 
Osra. " For on the first day I loved you, 
and on the second day I loved you, and on 
the third and the fourth and every day I 
loved you. Yet the first day was not like 
the second, nor the second like the third, 
nor any day like any other. And to-day, 
again, is unlike them all. Is love so various 
and full of changes ? " 

" Is it not ? " he asked with a smile. 
" For while you were with the Queen, talk- 
ing of I know not what 

" Nor I indeed," said Osfa hastily. 

" I was with the King, and he, saying 

296 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

that forewarned was forearmed, told me 
very strange aud pretty stories ; of some a 
report had reached me before " 

" And yet you came to Strelsau ? " 

" While of others I had not heard." 

" Or you would not have come to 

The Grand Duke, not heeding these ques- 
tions, proceeded to his conclusion. 

" Love, therefore," said he, '* is very vari- 
ous. For M. de Merosailles " 

" These are old stories," cried Osra, pre- 
tending to stop her ears. 

" Loved in one way, and Stephen the 
smith in another, and the Miller of Hof- 
bau in a third." 

" I think," said Osra, " that I have for- 
gotten the Miller of Hofbau. But can one 
heart love in many different ways ? I know 
that different men love differently." 

" But cannot one heart love in different 
ways ?" he smiled. 

" May be," said Osra thoughtfully, " one 
heart can have loved." But then she sud- 
denly looked up at him with a mischievous 
sparkle in her eyes. " No, no," she cried, 
" it was not love. It was " 

" What was it?" 

" The courtiers entertained me till the 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 297 

King came," she said, with a blushing laugh. 
And looking up at him again she whispered, 
4 'Yet I am glad that you lingered for a 

At this moment she saw the King come 
out on to the terrace ; with him was the 
Bishop of Modenstein ; and after the Bishop 
had been presented to the Grand Duke, the 
King began to talk with the Grand Duke, 
while the Bishop kissed Osra's hand and 
wished her joy. 

" Madame," said he, " once you asked me 
if I could make you understand what love 
was. I take it you have no need for my 
lessons now. Your teacher has come." 

" Yes, he has come," she said gently, look- 
ing at the Bishop with friendliness. " But 
tell me, will he always love me ? " 

" Surely he will," answered the Bishop. 

" And tell me," said Osra, " shall I always 
love him ? " 

"Surely," said the Bishop, again most 
courteously. "Yet indeed, madame," he 
continued, " it would seem almost enough to 
ask of heaven to love now and now to be 
loved. For the years roll on, and youth 
goes, and even the most incomparable 
beauty will yield its blossom when the sea- 
son wanes ; yet that sweet memory may 

298 The Heart of Princess Osra. 

ever be fresh and young, a thing a man can 
carry to his grave and raise as her best 
monument on his lady's tomb." 

" Ah, you speak well of love," said she. 
" I marvel that you speak so well of love. 
For it is as you say ; to-day in the wood it 
seemed to me that I had lived enough, and 
that even Death was but Love's servant as 
Life is, and both purposed solely for his 
better ornament." 

" Men have died because they loved you, 
madame, and some yet live who love you," 
said the Bishop. 

" And shall I grieve for both, my lord 
or for which ? " 

" For neither, madame ; the dead have 
gained peace, and they who live have es- 
caped forgetfulness." 

" But would they not be happier for for- 
getting ? " 

" I do not think so," said the Bishop, and 
bowing low to her again, he stood back, for 
he saw the King approaching with the 
Grand Duke ; the King took him by the 
arm and walked on with him ; but Osra's 
face lost the brief pensiveness that had come 
upon it as she talked with the Bishop, and 
turning to her lover, she stretched out her 
hands to him, saying : 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 299 

" I wish there was a cottage, and that you 
worked for bread, while I made ready for 
you at the cottage, and then ran far, far, far 
down the road to watch and wait for your 

" Since a cottage was not too small, a 
palace will not be too large," said he, catch- 
ing her in his arms. 

Thus the heart of Princess Osra found its 
haven and its rest ; for a month later she 
was married to the Grand Duke of Mitten- 
heim in the Cathedral of Strelsau, having 
utterly refused to take any other place for 
her wedding. Again she and he rode forth 
together through the Western Gate ; and 
the King rode with them on their way till 
they came to the woods. Here he paused 
and all the crowd that accompanied him 
stopped also ; and they all waited till the 
sombre depths of the glades hid Osra and 
her lover from their sight. Then, leaving 
them thus riding together to their happi- 
ness, the people returned home, sad for the 
loss of their darling Princess. But for conso- 
lation, and that their minds might the less 
feel her absence, they had her name often 
on their lips ; and the poets and story- 
tellers composed many stories about her, 
not grounded on fact, as are those which 

300 The Heart of Princess Osra* 

have been here set forth, but the fabric of 
idle imaginings, wrought to please the fancy 
of lovers or to wake the memories of older 
folk. So that, if a stranger goes now to 
Strelsau, he may be pardoned if it seem to 
him that all mankind was in love with 
Princess Osra. Nay, and those stories so 
pass all fair bounds that if you listen to 
them, you will come near to believing that 
the Princess also had found some love for 
all the men who had given her their love. 
Thus to many she is less a woman who once 
lived and breathed, than some sweet image 
under whose name they fondly group all 
the virtues and the charms of her whom 
they love best, each man fashioning for 
himself from his own chosen model her 
whom he calls his Princess. Yet it may be 
that for some of them who so truly loved 
her, her heart had a moment's tenderness. 
Who shall tell all the short-lived dreams 
that come and go, the promptings and stir- 
rings of a vagrant inclination ? And who 
would pry too closely into these secret mat- 
ters ? May we not more properly give 
thanks to heaven that the thing is as it is ? 
For surely it makes greatly for the increase 
of joy and entertainment in the world, and 
of courtesy and true tenderness, that the 

The Victory of the Grand Duke* 301 

heart of Princess Osra or of what lady you 
may choose, sir, to call by her name should 
flutter in pretty hesitation here and there 
and to and fro a little, before it flies on a 
straight wing to its destined and desired 
home. And if you be not the Prince for 
your Princess, why, sir, your case is a sad 
one. Yet there have been many such, and 
still there is laughter as well as tears in the 
tune to which the world spins round :-^- 

But still a Ruby kindles in the Vine, 
And many a Garden by the Water blows e 

Wear your willow then, as the Marquis 
de Merosailles wore his, lightly and yet most 
courteously ; or like the Bishop of Moden- 
stein (for so some say), with courage and 
self-mastery. That is, if wear it you must. 
You remember what the Miller of Hofbau 
thought ? 


The most important work from the pen of ANTHONY HOPE 

since the publication of " The Prisoner of Zenda," 

is to be entitled 


and is to be issued early in J897. 


The hero is a young English lord of to-day a man of the 
same stamp as Rudolph Rassendyl ; while the heroine is the lady 
Euphrosyne (Phroso) of Neopolia and more than equals Flavia 
in courage, interest and charm* 

Henry B. Weschler has spent nearly a year upon 
the numerous illustrations, working from the model 
and making use of a collection of Greek costumes, 
weapons, etc. 

The book will be published at $1.50 and will be well printed and 

bound ; and an extraordinary success is expected 

by its publishers. 





This book is due on the last date stamped below, or 

on the date to which renewed. 
RenewJ$J?ooks are subject to immediate recall. 




MAR 3 1962 




'<i!i ' ''' 

JAN IB ia/U4.9,